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Laurie Brookins on Resort’s Quiet Importance

The transitional season between fall and spring – Resort inspires yearnings of wanderlust with pieces tailor-made for escapism and adventure.

Louis Vuitton

Fall/winter collections always seem to capture the lion’s share of attention on the fashion calendar; perhaps it’s a subconscious holdover of that feeling we enjoyed as children, the thrill of September “back to school” clothes that signaled the beginning of a new academic year, accompanied by renewed friendships and endless possibilities.

Meanwhile, spring collections conjure up thoughts of warmth and winter’s conclusion – just ask anyone who has bought that breezy sleeveless dress, only to stare at it longingly as it hangs in the closet for two more chilly months.

But what about Resort? This transitional season between fall and
spring rarely captures the same high-wattage focus, which is puzzling when you consider its longevity at retail. Resort – depending on the house, it also might be dubbed cruise or, less frequently, pre-spring – typically arrives in early to mid-November, and can stay on store racks as late as April or early
May.

As its name implies, Resort historically has been a collection rooted in traveling clothes; think of chic women packing their Louis Vuitton trunks with vacation-friendly looks destined for Bermuda, Hawaii or any other upscale warm-weather locale that beckons in the weeks after Christmas.

Gucci

Over the years, Resort’s demographics and purpose may have evolved into
a more mainstream idea, but the makeup of the collections presented during this season has changed little for many designers.

Depending on the label, a Resort showing is often comprised of a mix of sophisticated daywear, a sprinkling of bathing suits and poolside-chic looks, perhaps a cocktail dress or two, and finally a small grouping of evening gowns.

Colors and fabrics likewise seem tailor-made for escapism and adventure – you may encounter a few great coats and office-friendly pieces here and there, but overall Resort should inspire thoughts not of work, but of wanderlust. That’s also why several major labels take their Resort shows out on the road, presenting their collections in glamorous settings befitting the jetsetter lifestyle.

For Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld has trekked to destinations as wide-ranging as Dubai, a promenade in Nice or a Santa Monica airport hangar to present the French label’s Resort collection. But he may have surpassed each of those in his work for Fendi, choosing the Great Wall of China – arguably the planet’s most spectacular runway – when presenting his Resort collection for the Italian label in 2007.

Dior

For Resort 2017, Lagerfeld chose the current hot destination, Havana, sending his colorful, Cuban-themed collection down the wide avenue known as Paseo del Prado. Louis Vuitton, which presented Nicolas Ghesquière’s Resort collection in Palm Springs last year, got in on Olympic fever and chose Rio de Janeiro for its May presentation. With its futuristic lines, the Oscar Niemeyer-designed Niterói Contemporary Art Museum proved a perfect backdrop for Ghesquière’s sleek, sport-centric clothes.

Gucci and Dior, meanwhile, opted not for tropical heat but the gray skies of England, choosing to show at Westminster Abbey and Blenheim Palace, respectively. Each offered up a unique take on English romance: Gucci’s Alessandro Michele wove a Victorian thread through his Resort collection, while the lines on some Dior pieces evoked thoughts of Agatha Christie drawing-room mysteries.

Such variety is key to another truism about Resort: while trends exist, their purpose often seems equal to the idea of the season itself, to transition us from fall to spring. That’s why you see a profusion of stripes, floral prints, folklore influences and activewear-inspired lines, ideas likewise expressed in the seasons that frame this particular Resort season.

If there’s one overriding trend about Resort, in any year, it’s that the clothes often seem simply joyful; consider the polka dots from Michael Kors or the flounces of beaded tulle on gowns at Carolina Herrera. Admittedly you’d be hard-pressed to encounter edgy, dour girls from either of these designers during any season, but for Resort? It’s always about sunshine.

Laurie Brookins is a New York-based fashion journalist and stylist