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Katie Trotter: Cruise control your wardrobe this summer

Fashion loves nothing more than being ahead of the game; keeping us on our toes and, in turn, keeping the industry in pocket. Which is where the cruise collections come in.

Fashion loves nothing more than being ahead of the game; keeping us on our toes and, in turn, keeping the industry in pocket. Which is where the cruise collections come in. From January through April, designers show their autumn/winter collections, and from September through November, it's time for spring/summer. If that isn't confusing enough, we throw in two more: the first is the couture collection and the second is what we call cruise, or pre-fall collection, which is often more commercial in design than the main lines and comes at a slightly lower price point.

The first-ever resort - or cruise - collection was designed by Christian Dior in 1948 under the title Resort and Spring. It began out of necessity, targeting wealthy jet-setters who needed additional summer wardrobe ideas for their winter holidays. Now, with 200-plus labels showing off their collections over eight weeks, it's only set to grow, especially with the help of blogging, which aids the advertising market.

It's a cash cow for designers, and where a large percentage of buyers invest in their stock. From a commercial point of view, it makes sense: the pieces stay in stores for longer compared with spring/summer and autumn/winter.

There were a few new trends this season. Nautical offered a fun take. Marc Jacobs played with mariner stripes and the seaside inspired Marni, Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Valentino, while Chloé went all out with a top-to-toe sailor girl with long, loose and wide-legged trousers and nautical necklines.

We can safely say that skinny jeans have had their day. Low-slung, baggy trousers that focus on a laid-back vibe are making their mark. Chloé, Narciso Rodriguez and Theyskens' Theory showed a 1990s version of the wide-leg, and Alexander Wang and Rochas added a fun marshmallow pink. Speaking of the 90s, the most interesting shape to appear was the somewhat shapeless spaghetti-strap dress.

It was nice to see a homespun take, with a bohemian artisanal feel after a season awash with digital prints. Moschino Cheap & Chic and Oscar de la Renta explored crochet and needlepoint. On the other side of the field, sports luxe - perhaps the supertrend of the decade - is still fast developing, with polished and embellished draped pieces to be seen from its ringleader, Gucci.

The continuation of lace from last season ramped things up; some typically romantic offerings from the likes of Nina Ricci Erdem, and some more graphic forms from Derek Lam and Christopher Kane.

Florals came around again. Prints were cleverly used in sportswear rather than the traditional romantic aesthetic. The Hawaiian tropical print - another classic - came in its best form from Miuccia Prada, who offered a beautiful Polynesian-inspired print, while Jason Wu showed stark palm trees on a simple and elegant backdrop.

Lastly, the exposed midriff offered a slightly more forgiving shape with a modest version that skims the waistband rather than by cutting away. Balenciaga and Alexander McQueen showed intricate cutting techniques that included high pockets, while Reed Krakoff offered a beautiful nude long-sleeved version - the perfect match to your wide-legged loose trouser.

Designer collections can be off-putting, both in their extremities and price points, so for those who want to explore, cruise is the perfect "step in" and a fun way to invest. With its tropical whiff of holidays, it's perfect for our seasonless Middle Eastern weather.

ktrotter@thenational.ae

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