European designers pick up on American cruise lines


NEW YORK -- The cruise showings by European designers speeded up in New York last week. Ever since they began selling ready-to-wear in this country on a large scale a decade or so ago, French and Italian designers have homed in on an essentially American creation, the fashion season known as cruise and resort.

Initially, these clothes were meant for northern women who spent a considerable amount of time in warm-weather spots like Palm Beach, Fla., during the winter. Way back when, some even went on cruises.

That was before airlines made quick trips to the Caribbean and long weekends in Florida accessible to less-wealthy women. And it was before the growth of Sun Belt cities, where winters are short and warm-weather clothes are needed practically year-round.

What hasn't changed is the need for fresh clothes in the stores starting in October and November. After all, fall styles are shipped as early as June and tend to look tired and familiar when they are still hanging on the racks a few months later.

It was this commercial consideration that impelled the Europeans to offer cruise collections before they actually understood the thinking behind the season that falls between fall and spring. Two seasons a year are the rule for European fashion houses; four or more are handled by American ones.

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