A model walks the runway during the Chanel 2012/13 cruise collection at Chateau de Versailles on May 14, 2012 in Versailles, France. This year's cruise presentation will be on a private island off the coast of Dubai.

Uncle Karl and his fashionable posse are putting the finishing touches to Chanel’s 2014/15 Cruise collection, being showcased in Dubai on Tuesday.

What world does the word ‘cruise’ conjure in your mind’s eye? Big yachts, magnificent beaches and a decadent lifestyle; luxury and chic being their proverbial red thread running through every aspect of the fantasy. Coco herself understood the market way back in the 1920s when she was one of the first designers to herald the concept of a cruise collection.


Named after its core audience — the well-heeled, jet-setting fashionistas who holiday away the colder winter months in balmy, tropical locales — a cruise collection fills the gap between winter and spring, when people want a fresh start after winter but the delivery of the spring collections is still many weeks away. Typically in stores in November, it would be safe to say, the strategic essence of a cruise collection is to sell, and sell more. According to Bruno Pavlovsky, president of Chanel, Cruise now represents the brands’ biggest and most important delivery of the year. It is also unofficially the most ‘affordable’ of six annual collections under the Chanel umbrella.


No surprises then, the Dubai edition of the show, which is held annually in May in a different city and often touted as fashion’s most exclusive party (in addition to Chanel Metiers d’Art show, which was in Dallas last year) is costing the maison a rumoured $2.5 million (Dh9.1 million). One thousand guests, including 300 media, many flown in from overseas, will enjoy a sunset fashion show and then a cocktail party into the night.

Going beyond the haloed fashion capitals, staging the cruise collection in unexpected locations is a phenomenon the established European labels are using to generate visibility, in order to asset stronger and viable business. Dior, for example, showcased its latest cruise last week in Brooklyn and Louis Vuitton’s freshly minted creative director Nicolas Ghesquiere will present his debut cruise collection next week in Monte Carlo. Even globalised mainstream labels such as H&M have taken a stab at the lucrative inter-seasonal market with successful collaborations with the likes of Versace.


Following a revival of its cruise collection 13 years ago, the most happening and vibrant cities have played host to Chanel’s cruise show — Venice, St Tropez — and Singapore last year, to name a few. Showcasing the new collection in Dubai, Chanel tips its hat to one of the fastest-growing luxury markets in the world as it invites newer markets into its double-C world.

“In addition to being a key hub for our fashion business in the Middle East, Dubai was chosen because it inspires travel and evokes the true spirit of cruise,” Pavlovsky said earlier. Lagerfeld himself has expressed his fascination with the “futuristic megalopolis of the 21st century, a crossroads of civilisations between Europe and Asia”.


In typical Lagerfeld fashion, not much is known about the actual collection or the staging on the event, except that a private island off Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach Park has been transformed into a venue befitting the extravaganza and that Lagerfeld and his beloved cat Choupette will be present.

What we can be sure of is the world’s A-list zeroing in on Lagerfeld’s chosen destination of the year. Front row at Chanel often includes Karl’s darlings — Keira Knightley, Diane Kruger, Vanessa Paradis, Lily Allen, Alexa Chung and his long-time muse Ines de La Fressange, but again, their presence has not been confirmed.

“We have always nice people coming from everywhere, from Asia from Europe from the States,” Pavlovsky told tabloid! on Monday. “The celebrities are the best, if I may say, guests that we can have. We could have had more but they are not available because they are so active in movies etc, but I think we have covered a large scope of artists including local ones. Let’s keep the surprise for tomorrow.”


At the cruise 2012 showcase, Lagerfeld’s models wore the double C as a beauty mark — an ode to Marie Antoinette — as they stomped down the executed queen’s playground, Versailles. Last year’s presentation in Singapore drew inspirations from cricket culture. If the Islamic-art-meets-Art-Deco styling of this year’s invite is any indication to go by, we are in for a treat!


— Dubai-based design writer Pratyush Sarup shares interiors tips twice monthly in tabloid! on Saturday. Follow him on @pratinthecity and on his blog www.designcarrot.co