In the 20's, wealthy Americans spend the winter away from the cold. In the midst of prohibition, hundreds of people rush on luxurious French liners, where they trade water for champagne. Cuba sees entire groups of rich gringos coming in search of exoticism, while part of the Upper East Side prefers to indulge in the tranquility of a yatch in the Mediterranean
At the dawn of the decade, Coco Chanel grasps the potential of this particular clientele. In 1919, she draws it its own capsule. The materials are lightweight, the cuts are suitable for movement. Mademoiselle imagines ethereal dresses and beachwear — for the anecdote, it is also she who will launch the tanning trend —, accessorized by elegant boater hats borrowed from the sailors' wardrobe. From walks to receptions, the socialite must be prepared at every moment of her holiday: the first cruise collection is born.
Exactly a century later, this tradition has spread beyond the house on rue Cambon. How did it evolve? Who is it addressed to today? How does it change the fashion calendar?
Cast off, we'll explain everything.
Capitalizing on the mid-season
Originally, the cruise collection (also known as "resort", or "croisière") is intrinsically linked to the notion of travel. An ode to the sun and idleness. From this heritage, it keeps its arrival in store at the end of November, early December, in time for the first big departures.
Commercial at its core — the collection that stays the longest on the shelf —, each piece is made to be worn. You will not find any obscure inspiration, nor any elusive concept. The brands play it pragmatic: they rely on trends, the cruise is only used to earn cash. As such, it often moves away from its summer spirit, going so far as to integrate coats and scarves. After all, why deprive yourself of those not going on a holiday...?
Cruises are also an opportunity for labels to strengthen their presence outside the traditional calendar. Since the beginning of the month, Chanel has recreated a station under the nave of the Grand Palais, Dior has flown to Marrakech, and Prada in the United States. Yet, they are no longer the hallmark of luxury. Many labels choose to present them in lookbooks rather than on a runway, when some simply announce their arrival on Instagram.
On the way to becoming a season in its own right, resort do not (yet?) have the same setting as a classic Spring/Summer cruise. Shows remain rare, no order of passage is defined between the major capitals... However, one city seems willing to rely on it to establish itself in the global fashion landscape: Sydney. Best known for its kangaroos and surfers, it creates the only fashion week in the world entirely dedicated to cruise collections.
From May 12 to 18, the Australian megalopolis beat to the rhythm of the crackling cameras. We focus on five creators trying to make this event significant.
The best of the Australian Fashion Week
Justin' time to party
Justin Cassin founded his eponymous brand in Los Angeles. Born in Australia, before growing up in the United States, he chooses to participate in Sydney's fashion week, where he is one of the few to present menswear exclusively.
With a great deal of black, he traces the contours of a man both refined and casual, powerful and confident, whom he then softens with a palette of nude and grey tones. A way to revisit the image of the golden boy, without however falling into clichés.
In P.E. class
For its very first fashion show, the label diversifies its closet with more elaborate pieces. Blazers, skirts and jeans invite themselves in the middle of sweatshirts and leggings, building a silhouette at the crossroads of genres. It also takes the opportunity to present its swimwear line, in collaboration with the Speedo brand, renowned for its budgie smugglers.
The Aje of reason
The inaugural show of the season, Aje's collection is a celebration of Australia's ethnic diversity. The designer duo at the head of the brand asks Yvonne Weldon, a representative of the Aboriginal community, to give a speech before the models start walking. A political approach rarely so direct in fashion, perhaps with the exception of Brexit, to which we are all the less accustomed for a cruise.
The message carried by the brand is subtly expressed through the clothes, whose ornaments pay tribute to the Gadigal people (natives of Sydney's harbour, editor's note), complemented by allusions to nature.
Not so Bassike
Bassike's concept stands in its name: designing wardrobe essentials, simple yet elegant. Offering both masculine and feminine lines, it chooses to focus its resort collection on women. Distancing itself from its usual minimalism, it opts for warm tones and colourful prints, ideal for the sea — or on the banks of the Seine.
One of the main players on the Australian scene, the label adopts an eco-responsible approach, with 90% of its production at a local level and the use of organic jerseys.
Somewhere over the Double Rainbouu
Double Rainbouu's credo: "for beach babes and pool punks". Focused on resortwear, it designs items made for all aspects of life on the waterfront. From swimming to rave parties on the beach, it follows every moment of the holidays, in the pure tradition of cruises.
Far from the aesthetics of the catamaran, it is aimed at a young audience, receiving a deluge of pieces that we can easily imagine moving from sand to bitumen...
In terms of prices, the Australian Fashion Week operates according to the same principle as Budapest: while luxury brands obviously have their place in it, much more affordable labels also take advantage of this opportunity to make a name for themselves. All the better for our bank account... •