Historically, designers and big houses have been known to be #extra with their cruise collections, throwing giant extravaganzas in far-flung locations around the globe. But in our first fashion season in the age of COVID, editors, buyers, and influencers are taking in the “runways” just like everyone else: one virtual look book at a time. Of course, that doesn’t mean these collections can’t have us dreaming of trips ahead—they are still inspired by places like Capri and Puglia after all. And designers and their teams often had to create them separate from each other, an effort that is a testament to their power of creativity and ingenuity. Ahead, see all the looks that are having us count our lucky stars that our airline status is extended for one more year.
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US.
Rather than giving into the fear and sadness that undoubtedly was the prevailing feeling of designing during a pandemic, Olivier Rousteing and his team leaned in to a colorful and exuberant future. Inspired by ’90s bright colors, bold graphics, and crisp tailoring, they created a collection that serves as “a reminder on the beauty of rebirth, youth, and optimism.”
No one likes to imagine what could have been. So let’s not picture how magical a Chanel cruise collection staged in Capri would have looked, and instead take in 51 looks, presented by Virginie Viard, inspired by the Italian Riviera.”Initially I had Capri in mind, where the show was supposed to take place, but didn’t happen in the end because of lockdown,” explains Viard via a release. “So we had to adapt: Not only did we decide to use fabrics that we already had, but the collection, more generally, evolved towards a trip around the Mediterranean. … The islands, the scent of the eucalyptus, the pink shades of the bougainvillea.”This collection in particular was set to be shown outside of Paris for the first time in years, where it had been located as an honor to the city for the multiple terrorist attacks it experienced. Using the legendary actresses of the 1960s on holiday as a starting point—think equal parts Jeanne Moreau, Sophia Loren, and Dorothy Dandridge—the looks emerge as a by-the-sea Chanel dream, and are perhaps Viard’s best to date.
Erdem Moralioglu found his post-pandemic dream in the outskirts of London in a mystical forest. At least, it looks mystical when you put in dreamy floral dresses done in the romantic style synonymous with the Brit designer. The collection, designed while he was in quarantine, was inspired by Regency dress and the 1960s, another time of turmoil and political upheaval.
Mariacarla Boscono on a solo holiday (save for a pup in the sand) in glamorously subdued looks—a sheer, strapless column gown, an embroidered caftan, a lurex 70s inspired dress, a perfect white button down—sums up Valentino Resort 2021. Pierpaolo Piccioli designed the collection and then lensed it himself. The creativity knows no bounds. But the message is simple: the show will go on and it doesn’t need so much pomp and circumstance to convey beauty.
Gabriela Hearst created her Resort collection with over 60% repurposed or recycled materials, shot on the designer and her sister Magdalena, a double doctor and PhD in Animal Science. The collection comes from a two-pronged place, Hearst explains, “Gratitude is the feeling I had first and foremost as we put this collection together. Gratitude, for our health, gratitude that we were able to create and express a collection that we are proud of. Fortitude is the second feeling; I now believe more than ever that there is nothing that my team and I can’t do when we put our heart and mind to it.” In other words, Hearst is clearly capable of thinking on her feet and still reaching a place of elevated simplicity in her collections. This streamlined line of mostly tan, denim, black and white dresses and separates is proof.
Prada refers to its Resort 2021 collection presentation as “The Show that Never Happened.” Because, well, it didn’t. Not in any traditional sense anyway. Instead, it was presented via videoin five chapters, interpreted by five image-makers and artists—Terence Nance, Joanna Piotrowska, Martine Syms, Juergen Teller and Willy Vanderperre. The collection itself is Prada, distilled. “Simple clothes, with a use and a value, a longevity anda place within people’s lives,” the show notes read. One theory on the future is that fashion will be less about the flash, the pomp and circumstance, and more about the necessity, the perfectly-executed to stand the test of time. While the pieces feel not unlike a Prada must-have capsule, that spark of cool is there, it’s not all black jackets (though, they’re there too.) Fit and flare dresses, sportswear, and workwear meld, and we’ll take those stirrup pants, too.
Vuitton calls its Resort 2021 collection, “a stationary journey.” For those of us who have remained at our homes and in our same cities and towns for months now, this idea really resonates. There is a theme of the LV Monogram on playing cards throughout, making an appearance on a handbag, or a charm that represents a suit in a card deck. Nicolas Ghesquière, Louis Vuitton women’s creative director, was inspired by the idea of time, explaining via a release, “I looked somewhere that has been calling out to me for a long time, somewhere I hadn’t taken the time to go back to. To uncover one inspiration after another. This is an exploration of my creative identity.” The overall look is sporty with an emphasis on stripes and an undeniable cool comfort found in sweatshirts, sweatpants and other loungewear gone luxe. Gray pants are paired with a ruffled blouse and belted jacket. A tulip skirt is topped with a button-down and varsity sweater. It’s less streetwear and more home-wear gone high fashion, and it feels right on time.
Tod’s headquarters in Brancadoro, a small town in central Italy, is run by artisans who have learned expert shoemaking techniques that have been passed down through the generations. And to highlight this incredible history, the brand’s creative director, Walter Chiapponi, presented the Resort 2021 collection through a series of images in the factory. Here, 20 looks for both men and women, concisely showcases Tod’s expert handling of leather—from high-waisted pencils to a coterie of bags to its iconic loafers—and penchant streamlined silhouettes. There were fitted suits with a ’70s flair, plaid dresses worn over prim shirts with rounds collars, and number of pleated skirts that oozed a sophisticated school-girl quality. All were unfussy, refined, and, like those shoemaking techniques, timeless.
Salvatore Ferragamo’s DNA is steeped in refinement—and its designer, Paul Andrew, understands that. So when looking for inspiration (before lockdown orders were instituted) for the Resort 2021 collection, he explored Scandinavian furniture and decided to infuse its qualities into fashion. This was reflected in the clean lines and functionality of the silhouettes, which featured minimal frills, and the colour palette comprised of warm hues and earth tones. Indeed, the 23-look lineup was light, elegant, and perfectly captured the essence of the storied label.
If you don’t consider pragmatism cool, MM6 may just change your mind. While devoid of flash, this highlight reel of Margiela feels like just what we want to wear—and perhaps, more importantly, buy. It’s Margiela in essence: black suiting, good jeans, plaid coats, a great neutral knit. Perhaps we’ve all come to a place where we’re ready for only the necessities, but they better be the coolest ones out there.
The through line of Isabel Marant’s resort collection is wearability. While continuing a love of ’80s silhouettes and styles—from bold shoulders to acid-wash denim—these are not runway-only looks. Stirrup jeans, reworked men’s shirts, a great trench coat, and sleek leather dresses are built to be bought and worn in real life. Have you ever heard of something so surprisingly optimistic as that?
Versace released one of the many fashion videos in rotation at the moment, this one a fun bop with a cameo by Donatella Versace starring British rapper AJ Tracey and model Anok Yai. That musical vibe extended to the resort collection, which is inspired by young musical artists and their fearless, fun, unexpected approach to fashion. Think: flashes of neon and pastels, snake prints, bold-shoulder jackets, leggings, and skirts so short they put the mini back in miniskirt. All were punctuated by sleek all-black and gold ensembles layered with flashes of gold. Every rock star—or rock star spirit—needs some all-black looks after all.
Never one to miss an Instagram opportunity, even during a pandemic, Simon Porte Jacquemus staged his spring 2021 collection for his namesake label in barley fields in Vexin Regional National Park. Here, he presented coquettish slipdresses in cream, black, and yellow; exaggerated shirts that were cropped or featured plunging necklines; and pencil skirts with high slits. Several references were made to provincial life, including gingham tops and frocks with appliqués that mirrored barley leaves and spikes. And not to be outdone were the accessories: spiral earrings in the vein of Joan Miró, miniature wicker bags, a carryall that held a single plate, necklaces and bracelets made of soap (yes, you read that correctly), and strappy heels.
Designer Alessandro Michele has not deviated from his aesthetic—one that has made Gucci one of the buzziest and most successful brands in the market. His fascination with vibrant mismatching patterns, bold colors, and rich textures return, this time with a greater emphasis on the bohemian styles of the ’60s—albeit with a luxurious bent. Think Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in St.-Tropez. There were long floral printed dresses with bug-eye sunglasses, an asymmetrical frock in paisley accessorized with a head scarf, a safari jacket over a peasant blouse and A-line skirt topped off with a turban, and a range of menswear that adhered to same vibe, bucking gender tropes.
Inspired by the opulence and magnificence of Saint Petersburg’s Yusupov Palace during the Belle Epoque, creative director Ian Griffiths looked to grand costumes worn by Russian aristocrats, Prince Felix and Princess Irina, at glorious masquerades. Titled “Reason and Romance”, the collection melds a practical, pared down elegance with poetic romance—rendered in a handkerchief-hemmed slip paired with the brand’s iconic Teddy near coat, flowy separates with gold trimming, knits that feature Russian motifs and rococo floral dresses borrowed from the Yusupovs’ palatial staterooms.
Centered on the sensual femininity portrayed by Romy Schneider in “La Piscine”, Sportmax’s resort 2021 collection is sees form-fitting silhouettes, bold colours and romantic prints. From a trench coat with a vanishing plisséd treatment and one-shoulder dresses to pencil skirts in high-gloss technical fabrics and backless knit tops, fashion director Grazia Malagoli ventures out of her comfort zone this season.
Sandra Sandor always keeps the natural world in mind. Her brand, Nanushka, does, after all, toot its sustainable prowess, offering sleek collections made of vegan materials. And for Sandor’s Resort 2021 collection, she drove this point even further by designing pieces inspired by the organic forms and colors found near shorelines. This is evident in the structural blazers with pronounced sleeves in cream, long coats in sandy hues, chic crop-tops that follow the same color palette, an asymmetrical cut-out dress in a rustic purple shade that evokes a sunset, and shirts that feature a print of etched florals. And if that wasn’t enough, the look book images were shot in the same picturesque setting, emphasizing how the lineup is perfect for the season it is designed for.
Maria Grazia Chiuri presented her 2021 Cruise collection for Christian Dior via livestream at the Piazza del Duomo in Lecce, a small town in Puglia, Italy—sans audience. She made sure to honor the town’s culture with aplomb, from an orchestra playing traditional Salento music to a troupe performing a modern interpretation of the pizzica, an Italian folk dance. The reverence to the traditions, styles, and the pastoral environment of Lecce was further displayed in the 90 looks, which were created with materials sourced by local artisans. There were long gauzy dresses with wheat embroideries, lace frocks that were cinched at the waist with wide leather belts or bustiers, relaxed linen suits, trousers and skirts with floral appliqués sprouting from the hem, woven ponchos and coats that were either lined with fringe or shearling, and pinafore-style separates.
In lieu of a Resort 2021 collection, Carolina Herrera instead released its Spring 2021 line, as a way to follow the see-now, buy-now model. But even with this change, designer Wes Gordon hasn’t deviated from the label’s dreamy and glamorous aesthetic—one that is pronounced by his choice in rich colors and voluminous silhouettes. “This season, it’s a combination of grapefruit and paprika,” he said in a statement. “We used that combination in the poppy print, and in a short taffeta dress with two exaggerated knots over the bustier, and the short bubble skirt draped to convey life and movement. This is a dress for dancing and celebrating.” Indeed, these pieces, along with a denim frock with puffy shoulders and an effervescent chiffon gown, spread a sense of joy. And in these uncertain times, we certainly could use a lot of that.
Burberry is keeping its Resort 2021 collection close to home—going so far as to shoot each person in the seasonal lookbook outside of their respective front doors in England. That British energy extends to the clothes themselves—leveraging plaid suiting, trench coats with the logo splashed across them, and even and English garden motif. Chief Creative Officer Riccardo Tisci explains that insular vibe in a release: “This season, I wanted to draw upon the familiar, the things that bring us comfort and strength. I returned to what first inspired me in the Burberry heritage house codes, like the check, iconic stripes and unicorn emblems, but revisited them with a new perspective, incorporating elements of both sophistication and street through the lens of the outdoors.”
Elegance is at the core of Bottega Veneta, and Daniel Lee delivers that every season. Since taking the helm of the famed Italian label, the designer has presented collections that are refined and sleek, but also push boundaries. His resort 2021 collection was a testament to that, with chic teddy coats cast in a striking violet hue, finely cut suits with rounded shoulders, and chic halter dresses jazzed up with bandana-style collars.
Town meets country with Altuzarra’s collection for the resort 2021 season. From gingham separates and floral maxi dresses to sharply tailored coats and leather culottes with elegant knits, the designer harmoniously blended hard and soft elements to form looks that keep to the strength and understated allure that is part and parcel of his namesake brand. He’s built his label on offering classic pieces that don’t succumb to the trend du jour, instead focusing on wardrobe staples that can be treasured well beyond what the fashion cycle often dictates.
“The challenging time we have been living through helped to highlight the importance of timelessness, ease, and emotion,” he said in a statement. “I wanted to focus the collection not only on the idea of sensual, relaxed, wearable luxury, but also around pieces that felt emotional and desirable.”
Brandon Maxwell has embraced color in a big way. Over several seasons, the New York–based designer has steadily introduced attention-grabbing hues, leaving behind the all-black mindset that characterized his first collections. And for resort 2021, he drove this point even further. Indeed, the array of gem tones in the 15 looks—including oversized suits in peridot green, ruby-red jackets, and tops that glisten like pink diamonds—is a virtual treasure trove. Optimism permeated from one ensemble to the next, conveying how, even in dark times, there are brighter things ahead.