Long associated with exclusivity, cruise wear is set to become one of the fashion world’s biggest trends in 2012, with an influence on major label collections and the UK high street. Cruise, or resort wear, developed around the habit of the super-rich for skipping the winter months by sailing around the world. Whether stopping off at ports, or relaxing onboard, a smart everyday style prompted ranges of elegant dresses, suits, swimwear and casual wear shirts and shorts for men and women. For international designers, cruise wear’s appeal has however gone much further to become a flexible and affordable ready-to-wear option for the whole year, regardless of climate.
The past few years have seen labels such as Dior, Prada, Alexander McQueen and Paul & Joe particularly experiment with spring and summer cruise collections, with recent high-profile launches in New York, London and Milan cementing the style’s importance for 2012 fashion. Taking cruise wear’s traditional simplicity, designers have developed a cosmopolitan style, based around Mediterranean and nautical prints, high-quality cotton and silk fabrics, and timeless, elegantly cut shapes matched with fun, feminine prints and accessories.
Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen has received particular attention by following her Kate Middleton wedding dress with a 2012 cruise collection inspired by 1940s shapes and safari themes. The bold look, combining classically structured styles with bold colours and prints, has built on recent John Galliano’s ‘Fiesta’-inspired collection for Dior as designers push to balance glamourous looks with practicality.
The High Street
The high street has also been well-served though for 2012, with Versace supplying H&M with a colorful range of lightly feminine dresses teamed with tropically-themed bikinis and lingerie, and a men’s line focused on classic suits and casual wear. Already one of the high street’s bestselling lines at H&M, cruise is set to become more common across UK outlets during the year.
Cruise wear’s main wardrobe strengths lie in its relaxed, easily-matched inter-season style, whether through simple cotton dresses, walking-wear and caftans, or more formal looks, ideal for both early-year getaways and matching with winter collections. The look across lines this year aims for simple but fun elegance for a relaxed style, ideal for anticipating the summer months.
While new collections are generally focused on womenswear, men are also well-served by the Versace and Paul & Joe collections with classic suits, lighter blazers, T-shirts, jeans and shorts suitable for year-round use. The combined effect is a smart casual look that has moved from resorts to what should be a staple of the UK high street and high fashion.