In 2017, Business of Fashion wrote an article titled « The Business of Cruise: Go Big or Go Home, » analyzing the strategies of many fashion brands that were abandoning their extravagant, highly « instagrammable » but extremely expensive cruise shows, which had become the prerogative of the most prestigious luxury fashion houses. However, in a post-Covid era, concerned about climate risk and less focused on Western perspectives alone, one might wonder if the time of extravagant cruise shows, which simply « appreciated » the local culture of their destinations, is over for major luxury brands like Chanel, Dior, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton.

Cruise collections remain crucial for luxury fashion brands, both from a communication and financial perspective. Firstly, since cruise shows take place outside the fashion week calendars, brands benefit from more exposure and also more freedom in terms of aesthetics, inspiration, and, of course, location. Secondly, as they attract a broader and more diverse target audience in terms of climate, they are highly profitable, and even more lucrative as they stay in stores longer and are generally not put on sale.

The destinations of the shows play a key role for these fashion houses and can become a strategic communication lever for both the luxury brand and the chosen destination. Luxury brands can no longer select cruise show destinations based on commercial expectations, as was the case for Chanel’s Cruise shows in 2014, 2015, and 2016 in Singapore, Dubai, and Korea respectively. Luxury consumers of Gen Z expect more authenticity, a narrative that can connect the fashion house to the selected destination. These houses now use « repeat shows » for commercial purposes. The Cruise collection caters to other strategies but also to new expectations from consumers.

Luxury fashion houses can delve into their archives to find a connection with the chosen show destination, as Dior did for the Cruise 2018 show in California or Cruise 2022 in Athens. New types of connections can also be found to make the chosen destination even more relevant in the eyes of consumers and to legitimize it. For example, in addition to their own historical connections with Barcelona and London, Louis Vuitton and Gucci strengthened the cultural relevance of their Cruise shows in 2025 with numerous cultural activations.

Louis Vuitton’s show in Barcelona was part of several partnerships with the Catalan city, including Louis Vuitton’s 37th America’s Cup hosted by Barcelona, the publication of the latest Louis Vuitton city guide for Barcelona, numerous cultural activities, and educational programs to support creativity and design. Gucci, for its first Cruise collection under the direction of Sabato de Sarno, chose the Tate Modern Gallery in London in a very symbolic manner, reflecting the Cruise 2017 show organized by Alessandro Michele in the gothic atmosphere of Westminster Abbey.

Based on an academic study of Cruise shows and collections from 2012 to 2022 organized by luxury fashion houses, Dior has long been the only luxury fashion brand to go beyond the inspiration of escapist imaginaries to create real synergies with the chosen destinations for its Cruise shows and collections. This goes beyond the visibility given to these destinations, which can be very positive in the short term in terms of tourism and local business development, as was the case for Arles after the Gucci Cruise 2019 show or Greece after the Dior Cruise 2022 show, which took place in Athens just after the pandemic.

Under the direction of Maria Grazia Chiuri, the French house has developed respectful collaborations with artisans and local cultural scenes of the Dior Cruise show destinations, including Mexico, Greece, Spain, African communities, and this season, with Scottish craftsmanship, in a masterful tribute to Mary Stuart and the personal history of Christian Dior.

It seems that the competition has received the message. Cultural relevance does not simply mean cultural significance. Luxury fashion brands, especially when selecting show destinations where culture or craftsmanship may disappear if not urgently supported, should aim to celebrate cultural appreciation and collaboration in a shared tribute to local culture, creation, and craftsmanship. Luxury fashion brands want to be perceived as cultural brands, according to Bernard Arnault, referring to Louis Vuitton. This is precisely what cultural actors with significant financial resources are expected to do. Cruise shows are the perfect tool to implement the cultural claims of these brands and prove the authenticity behind the discourse.