MAYBE Christian Dior's Gianfranco Ferre was being facetious when he described this as his 'cruise collection'. Or maybe, like other top French houses, Dior felt there were plenty of potential sales to be made among well-dressed clients - especially in tropical areas - who found the autumn-winter range too warm, the spring-summer line not warm enough and were looking for something comfortably in-between. This new offering, now a staple of eminent fashion houses, has been called a 'cruise collection' because it is designed to fill those awkward seasons in the above-average wardrobe. More appropriately however, illustrious European designers believe there is actually a serious demand for clothing from women who spend their holidays, well, cruising. Those with a luxury ocean-liner lifestyle will love it: these are clothes that travel well, don't need too much care, and would appear to be perfect for those idyllic, carefree days and nights aboard regal cruise-ships which are the domain of the privileged. Where most vacationers would be happy with some khaki shorts and a couple of linen shirts, Dior's cruise collection is for those who take their holidays - and their holiday wardrobes - very seriously. 'It can be used for sea-cruising, as well as for that other sort of cruising. You know, the nightclubs,' said Pierre Balsan, managing director of Christian Dior. Irrespective of where it is worn, the cruise collection certainly makes no concession to the rumoured tighter budgets of the once-spendthrift. Suits average between $20,000 and $25,000 and short-sleeved tops about $6,000 to $9,000. Despite the high prices, the stuff is selling. Dior retail manager Judy Chan believes the demand might be because cruise collections are considered 'new arrivals' in an existing line, and gives regular shoppers a 'new incentive to buy', she said. Dior unveiled its latest cruise line during a lunchtime showing at its Central boutique, which was packed to the rafters with tai tais. And even if the cruise collection is little more than a sales ploy, it is one that evidently works: by the end of the day, the mannequins in the store window were naked, and the black suit worn during the show by Ms Chan was sold out. To Dior's credit, parts of the collection were extremely enticing. The 'beachwear' showed no swimsuits (they hadn't arrived yet), but large, breezy organza blouses sold well as did sky-blue miniscule lycra-mix skirts with tiny tops and diamante straps. Also pretty were transparent linen blouses. They were worn over a bustier top and slinky shantung silk jeans in soothing summer colours. Not quite cruise-worthy but attractive nonetheless were wool crepe suits with bejewelled buttons in shapes that reflect next spring's Dior offerings; light fabrics such as silk jacquard were in Prince of Wales checks. Evening-wear included the usual fare of sequins, velvet and lace but throughout, the cut was narrow, structured and very sexy. Perfect for sitting at the captain's table.