In the depths of winter, cruise collections show a bright way forward for fashion, writesGemma Soames
Spring and autumn used to be the header and footer to our fashion lives, giving the only looks that mattered for the coming year. But these days, mid-season shows are injecting some freshness into the stores and our wardrobes.
Hitting the shops now are scaled-down offerings known as cruise collections. Once known as resort collections, and conceived for the glam set heading for their winter holidays in the sunshine, they are now major fixtures in the fashion calendar.
Cruise has always been about summery pieces, plenty of print and colour, and the odd dose of beach fashion. Should you be after some bright sunshine for your winter wardrobe, this is the place to look. Showing print, pastels and more than a bit of romance this season, the collections are full of femininity and spice. Smart girls love cruise for its focus on colour, and because it's a chance to get in on next season's trends early. Transparency, trouser suits and ruffles all make an appearance now, and will be hitting the shelves come spring. Here is a round-up of the key trends to look out for.
Should you be looking for a breath of fresh air to sweep through your winter wardrobe, one of the standout trends from this year's cruise collections is white. The girlier end of the spectrum was catered to by Chanel, which showed a series of knee-length, full-skirted dresses that had a fresh, milkmaid-type appeal to them and some signature intricate embroidery.
Demonstrating a more minimal way with white was 3.1 Phillip Lim, with a simple minidress that came in floatier and more structured styles, and a sporty take on a white biker jacket that would look great over almost any outfit.
Both The Row and Calvin Klein took a more businesslike approach with smart white tailored separates, while Chloé's relaxed, crisp day dresses and jumpsuits will inject freshness into any closet. Balenciaga's simple full-length shift complete with cut-out detail gave a direction for eveningwear - paired with slicked-back hair and minimal make-up. Come next spring, monochromatic pairings such as those seen at Marc Jacobs are going to be a very big thing. Throw a dark blazer over any of your crisp white cruise looks and you'll be set.
Time to get girly
Girliness was probably the most consistent mood across the cruise collections. From the sugary confections of Chanel's show in Paris' gardens of Versailles to more structured and grown-up takes, the look came in many guises, with pastel colours, touches of lace and smatterings of peplums and ruffles.
For Frida Giannini at Gucci, there was a slight '70s vibe, with dresses covered in an interpretation of a vintage floral print first designed for Grace Kelly back in the '50s.
Karl Lagerfeld celebrated femininity with ultra-pretty dresses in pinks and pale blues, complete with cap sleeves, sparkles and the odd feather to finish things off.
Valentino and Louis Vuitton lent a slight '60s feel to the proceedings, with pastel coloured dresses and floral prints.
At Chloé and Balenciaga, ruffles and frills were structured, and came in easy, ice cream colours with touches of pale pink and lemon yellow, and Nina Ricci and Alberta Ferretti went long on lace. And for those who like to keep it both pretty and grown up, Erdem and Jason Wu produced beautiful dresses in shapes that were both girly and glam.
It's no surprise that collections conceived to liven up a long, cold winter should show a plethora of prints. This year, however, the print theme was even brighter than usual.
At the houses of Missoni and Givenchy, prints were doubled up with graphic elements to create a look that was both bohemian and rather sharp.
Tomas Maier at Bottega Veneta went for earthier tones, clashing burgundies and greens in printed dresses that were very wearable and will work just as well for day or night.
Céline's oversized polka dots proved that fashion needn't always be too serious. Prabal Gurung's pale backgrounds were more subtle.
But the biggest hit of colour came from the Brits, who provided myriad ways to make a statement. You can go tonal, as seen in Erdem's smart prom-style dresses in reds and pinks, or in Jonathan Saunders' deeply saturated separates and shifts in blues and greens.
Or you can cover the whole spectrum with digitally mastered, designed-to-clash prints, as seen from Peter Pilotto.
A touch of transparency
Whether shown as panels in trousers, as overlays in skirts and blouses or detailing on dresses, transparency is going to be big next year, and the cruise collections have got in early on the game. It's not surprising that Alexander Wang - given his grungy, cool girl aesthetic - leads the charge here, showing sheer layers over body-hugging shapes in black and white.
Calvin Klein's minimal, ankle-grazing styles offer a grown-up version of the same, and Louis Vuitton's pale pink midi-dress is proof that transparency needn't be overtly sexy.
Céline's sheer trousers, complete with printed underlayers and demure tops do the trick for daytime. And for the evening, look to Stella McCartney, whose white lace trousers and sheer panelled dresses are pretty and provocative all at once.
Trousers were given the star treatment. At Céline, Stella McCartney and Gucci, colour was key. McCartney's mustard, coral and burned orange flared shapes were worn with tonal blazers for the wow factor, or delivered in crisp white with a pale blue jacket.
Céline's bright red, high-waisted version and white, double-breasted pants suit both had a '70s feel, as did Gucci's denim, cream and pink trouser suits.
For the ultimate, Alexander McQueen's versions - in steel grey prints festooned with dragonflies, or in simple, immaculately tailored black with white detailing - demonstrate that trousers most certainly cut it as evening wear. firstname.lastname@example.org