It took no less than 15 days to install a monumental cruise liner into the heart of Paris’ Grand Palais (for last night’s Chanel Cruise show, neatly enough). The collection was similarly maritime in intention: think wave prints, Breton stripes, sailor pants, rubber-soled Mary Janes and life-saver handbags.
If anyone has the heritage to draw on this it is Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel. Back in the 1920s and 30s, when the French Riviera was the holiday destination of choice for everyone from F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald to le tout fashionable Europe, Mlle Coco Chanel herself, then at the glittering apex of the social scene in Biarritz, offered lightweight, easy clothing for yachting, promenading on the seafront or lounging on the beach: she is famously the woman who made naturally tanned skin not only sociably acceptable but desirable.
Since his arrival at the house of Chanel in 1983, Karl Lagerfeld in turn identified the value of a standalone cruise collection, for chic winter travel to warmer climes. Among many pioneering moves, he was the first of his profession who, from the 2000s onwards, deemed these worthy of their own catwalk presentation.
Chanel Cruise has since travelled the world taking in destinations including Grand Central Station, New York, the Venice Lido, Santa Monica airport, Los Angeles, the hotel Eden Roc on the Cap d’Antibes, the gardens of Versailles and Seoul. This season, it returned to Paris and the 1,000-strong audience was more than happy to see it there.
There are eight complete Chanel collections produced each year – that’s one every six to eight weeks and more than any other brand. It is the house’s cruise collection, though, which has the longest life-span in boutiques, where it can be found from November to July.