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Celebrating personal connections through fashion cruise shows

From Chanel to Dior, luxury houses are celebrating their personal connections with foreign cities through cruise showcases

From the Chanel cruise show on 9 May
From the Chanel cruise show on 9 May (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

More luxury houses, from Chanel to Gucci, are hosting their cruise shows in cities historically linked to their heritage to showcase their personal connection through design and textiles.

For the recent Chanel Cruise 2023-24 show, for instance, creative head Virginie Viard picked Los Angeles, exploring a significant connection to Coco Chanel's works in Hollywood films.

In 1931, the famed Hollywood producer Sam Goldwyn (who believed that only Coco Chanel, a French, could replace Hollywood's ostentatious glamour with genuine style) invited the celebrated couturier to visit Hollywood. With her designs, Goldwyn felt Chanel would bring “class” to Hollywood. Soon after, actor Gloria Swanson was seen in a Chanel gown in the 1931 film, Tonight Or Never.

Also read: Why Chanel’s cruise collections are the last word in resort-wear

The 9 May cruise show paid a tribute to the city, with the showcase titled An Ode To The City Of Angels. Around the same time, a new Chanel boutique was opened in Beverly Hills (the largest in the US). Highlighting the founder's legacy of dressing movie stars on- and off-screen in the 1930s, as well as the house's modern-day ties to Hollywood, Viard staged the show on a set behind Paramount Pictures Studios.

Bringing together French chic with Los Angeles athleticism, the designer presented a collection that included running shorts, beaded bodysuits, star-shaped minaudieres, trainers worn with leg warmers, besides a section of ensembles dedicated to old Hollywood (like sequinned blazers, sunset-ombre hued totes and trouser suits).

From Gucci's Cruise show on 16 May
From Gucci's Cruise show on 16 May (AP)

Even Gucci in its recent Cruise 2024 showcase celebrated its connection to South Korea, which began 25 years ago when the House opened its first flagship store in Seoul in 1998.

Cecilia Morelli Parikh, co-founder of Le Mill, says, "The reach of such shows is not limited to its specially invited attendees. It extends to aspirational customers of the brand, making it a highly followed event. Be it a performance of Molière’s ‘School for Wives’ that inspired Yves Saint Laurent to create the ‘Le Smoking’ suit or Dior hosting their Pre-Fall '23 show in Mumbai (Dior is hosting its Cruise show in Mexico on 21 May), as their collection featured extraordinary craftsmanship of India’s artisans, culture having a deep impact on fashion is not out of the ordinary. But pop culture influencing fashion? That is something fresh in the industry, and we see that slowly being adopted by fashion houses to stay more relevant." 

Every luxury brand’s cruise show invite goes to a select guest list. This list mainly consists of celebrities and influencers to promote the event and of course the brand’s top clients. "Now hosting these shows abroad definitely engages in a cultural dialogue but at the same time creates a unique experience for their clients. A brand’s cruise collection is basically their holiday or travel collection, and inviting guests as they travel to view this collection in person just adds to the whole experience," adds Parikh.

Pernia Qureshi, co-founder of Saritoria, notes that the cruise experience for a luxury customer is important because holiday shopping is a must for all luxury connoisseurs. “The target clients of these brands plan elaborate holidays every year for which they need a wardrobe to match. It’s always a good marketing peg when the brand and the show host city has a connection. From there, a story can be built which then leads to interesting content and PR. Luxury brands have recognised that having that extra marketing push in key cities that are a hub for buying power or culture will drive sales and the right kind of eyeballs in the international media.”

Also read: Gucci's love letter to Korea

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