Saturday, May 2, 2015
ACROSS SPACE AND TIME:
THE CRUISE COLLECTION
In 1919 a small mid-season collection proposed by Coco for her clients vacationing in sunny climes gets a mention in American Vogue. The acceleration of cultural and social change sees the emergence of a new, independent woman who drives, and practices sports, while travel on luxury liners becomes fashionable among high society. The sportswear category takes off, with Gabrielle a key influencer.
In her boutique in Biarritz she proposes a sober, elegant wardrobe (think baggy, sailor-style pants, beach pajamas, and open-neck shirts) aimed at women familiar with the resort and yachting lifestyle of the era’s fashionable resorts, with as their playground the Basque Country, the Riviera and the Lido. Her designs, which coincide with the democratization of fashion and advances in travel that took off during the 1930s, are also cited in L’Officiel de la Mode in 1936: ’’A comprehensive mid-season collection… rich in suits and evening gowns.” The Cruise spirit is born, with Gabrielle its pioneer. Outmoded, the collection winds down in the 1950s but is resurrected by Karl Lagerfeld soon after his arrival at Chanel in 1983. Presented in late spring, on the fringes of the ready-to-wear collection, the silhouettes herald the arrival of summer.
The collection’s success sees the introduction of an annual show in the year 2000, a concept that slowly filters through to the rest of the fashion industry. Chanel sportswear, having evolved into more elegant lines, today addresses a global clientele on the lookout for newness, with fresh pieces introduced by the Maison roughly every two months. Refined, light and colorful, these summery silhouettes - geared to the day, cocktail-hour or evening - are especially suited to the climates of countries in South America, the Middle East and South-East Asia.
Blending together the traditions of a wardrobe and the modernity of a cosmopolitan style, the Cruise collection is about traveling. Each stop is for Karl Lagerfeld the occasion to tour favorite Gabrielle Chanel's destinations and to envision those she would have love to discover.
Gabrielle Chanel and Roussy Sert on a boat - Circa 1935 © All Rights Reserved