Susannah Frankel: Ready To Wear

'Cruise collections are harbingers of what's to come'
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Miami, Florida might not seem the most obvious place for a fashion show. However much that city's residents may protest otherwise, Paris it most certainly is not. Still, last week, and presumably in a bid to woo the cash-strapped US customer, that quintessentially French designer label Chanel showed its cruise collection there (left).

Historically, this particular aspect of the brand has been the occasion of less-than-conventional catwalk presentations. Chanel cruise has, in the past, been shown at the Caf Marly the Parisian brasserie located under the magnificent archways of the Louvre; on a yacht, sailing along the river Seine; and on a preternaturally glamorous double-decker bus ride through the French capital. In 2007, Chanel cruise travelled to Los Angeles. In 2006, it landed in New York.

For the unveiling of the 2008 collection, a catwalk was installed across the azure swimming pool of the Raleigh hotel in the presence of Anna Wintour (but of course!) and under the type of sunny sky that has so far been elusive even in southern Europe this year.

"The concept of cruise collections is based on travelling," said Karl Lagerfeld, explaining the move, "and Miami is an ideal destination."

When to buy cruise? It is well known that, by August, the fashion-savvy customer will already have invested in key pieces for autumn and will be looking for a new fix. Neither is this monied creature tied down by anything as banal as the seasons. Not only is she aware of the fact that fashion is a global business, and summer in one part of the world is autumn in another, but also she is unlikely ever to turn down the opportunity of a spot of winter sun. Credit crunch? What credit crunch?

And this is just the type of woman for which cruise (or "resort", as it is known by the Americans) was originally designed. Chanel cruise and any self-respecting big fashion name has its own interpretation on the theme arrives in store in November, acting as a mid-season stock drop to refresh stores with desirable pre-spring clothes. As such it has grown beyond its original remit (beachwear, chic cover-ups and cocktail dresses, all relying heavily on clichd themes, both tropical and nautical) to encompass everything from tailoring to sundresses. And while cruise previously erred on the more classic side of style, today it's very much seen as a harbinger of what's to come often anticipating spring trends and, indeed, spring weather.

As the powers that be at Chanel are quick to confirm, Chanel cruise offers "a pleasant way to anticipate the summer". How chic.

s.frankel@independent.co.uk

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