Cruise collections, also referred to as "resort", originated when designers realized that women getting ready for their holiday jaunts to the French Riviera or the Caribbean to escape the winter months needed an easy-to-wear wardrobe of chic and practical staples that catered to their jet-setting lifestyles. Their commercial appeal and long presence in stores, usually from November until as late as May, make these ranges extremely important to the bottom lines of fashion brands, which in recent years have started to put on grand shows to present them to their customers around the world.
From Chanel in Singapore a few years ago to Dior in the South of France last year and Louis Vuitton in Rio de Janeiro last month, the locations of these far-flung shows have usually been hot spots on the glamorous routes of globe-trotting socialites.
While you can't deny that London has its fair share of fashion credentials and glamour quotient, it's not the first place that comes to mind when you think of a resort show, which is why Gucci's decision to stage its cruise 2017 presentation in the British capital, and more specifically Westminster Abbey, a place often associated with royal weddings and state funerals, was a bit of a surprise.
When you look at Gucci's current aesthetic, however, this choice sort of makes sense. The Italian label's creative director, Alessandro Michele, who's been at the helm of the house for barely two years, has quickly built a strong new identity for the brand, based on a mishmash of references and vintage-looking outfits perfectly suited to the eccentricity and granny-chic vibe of London's Victorian interiors and riotous flea markets.
According to front-row guest Georgia May Jagger, who loved the show's mix of "romantic and tough", London is Michele's favorite city. His predilection for the town, and British style in general, was evident in punk touches such as studded distressed denim, sun hats worn with prim floral dresses, tartan plaids and even a Union Jack print. If this sounds a bit too literal, it was in fact deftly mixed with what have become signatures of Michele's maximalist work: cats and bees embroidered on ribbed sweaters; Margot Tenenbaum-style furs lavishly decorated with peacock or rose patterns; jacquard fabrics in a rainbow of hues; and polka-dot ruffled dresses.
More is always more with Michele - 96 looks and counting this time - but in spite of the overwhelming feel, the show had an almost ethereal quality, thanks to its eery soundtrack of medieval choral music and the glacial pace of the models' walk along the cloisters of the Abbey, above the graves of some of Britain's most illustrious monarchs. While styling tricks such as nerdy spectacles and giant rings adorning every finger are obviously meant for the runway, this collection offered a great deal of covetable pieces, which will translate well commercially once they hit stores. Giant hobo bags with those trademark cat prints, monogram handbags with snake-shaped closures and multi-buckled ankle boots in a myriad of pastel hues should keep the Gucci momentum going for quite some time.