There was once a time when the resort/cruise collections were made for the rarefied woman who could afford to escape the winter by heading to the tropics (she needed swimwear and a caftan, did she not?). Not anymore. While still a David to the Goliath fall and spring collections, resort is catching the attention of more and more people.
Like air travel and cell phones, is resort bound for the masses?
Collections are just now beginning to hit stores and, for a season that's ostensibly all about lounging around on the beach or the deck of a boat, there's a lot of fashion news to digest: optical motifs, exotic locales like Marrakesh, sheer, leathers for day, aquatic, scuba, old-world charm, draping and, of course, nautical.
The media is doing their part. Fashion magazines are pointing out 'It items' like the floral ribbon-laced sandal from Prada, a bright green croc tote from Roberto Cavalli and pretty much everything in Chanel's stunning parade of black and white caftans and graphics (above).
Fashion insiders have long contended resort/cruise is either an evolution of fall or a preview of spring. That's not necessarily the case today, says style and beauty expert Mary Alice Stephenson. Stephenson explained to me this week that fashion has become like fast food and designers are compelled to feed the hungry. In other words, a resort collection must stand on its own.
"People want whatever's new," she says. "And designers like to keep customers surprised with their unique point of view. Shoppers are putting more thought into their splurges. So designers have to seduce the buyer with making the pieces usable in every aspect of their lives."
Others tell me resort/cruise is the one time designers get to cut loose and get creative. Saleability is less of an issue for a season that lasts, at most, two months. Of course, some designers go overboard. Calvin Klein designer Francisco Costa caught hell from my former employer Women's Wear Daily for his lineup of transparent dresses: "A long-standing argument against such [formal runway] presentations for resort is that inevitably some designers will crossover to the too-editorial side." Too-editorial means that those dress will have nothing whatsoever with how you and I dress in reality.
Still, as buyers we are demanding uniqueness, a slice of our favorite label. We want pieces to seamlessly integrate into our wardrobes. We want reality. And we want season-less items to wear far into next year.
We want it all, don't we?