A lesson in Afternoon Tea
Focus on fashion
Transatlantic Fashion Week on board Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 is a fantastic spectacle of colour and talent. We look at how such a fantastic Event Voyage comes together.
Since 2016, Transatlantic Fashion Week on Queen Mary 2 has been a regular feature of Cunard’s event voyage calendar. We venture behind the runway to find out what guests can expect on board this iconic ocean journey celebrating fashion at its finest.
When Gail Sackloff OBE floated the idea of a fashion show on board a cruise ship over lunch with Cunard Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Angus Struthers, little did she know the wheels she’d just set in motion.
“I’ve been an enthusiastic Cunard guest for more than 15 years – it’s my favourite way to travel!” enthuses Gail. “One day, I had lunch with Angus and Lee Powell [Vice President of Brand and Product Development], and suggested that Queen Mary 2 would be the most wonderful venue to host a fashion event across the Atlantic to New York. They were in complete agreement and asked me if I would create it.”
As a consequence of that conversation, the first Transatlantic Fashion Week sailed from Southampton to New York in 2016 and such was its success that it’s become an annual crossing in the Cunard event voyage calendar ever since. Along with Gail, fashion historian and style commentator, Colin McDowell MBE, also helps to curate the week’s line-up of industry talent joining each voyage. In the past, this included iconic milliner Stephen Jones OBE - who has made hats for the Queen and Princess Diana - as well as fashion designers Zandra Rhodes and Julien McDonald.
As with all Cunard event voyages , months of planning is required to bring each Transatlantic Fashion Week voyage to life. There are models to be cast, a line-up of top industry talent to be finalised and a plethora of hair stylists and make-up artists to be booked. Then, of course, there’s the week’s itinerary itself to firm-up. It’s an exciting programme, filled with inspiring talks and Q&As with guest speakers, hands-on workshops, themed afternoon teas and dinners, catwalk shows and much more. A true celebration of style and craftsmanship against the backdrop of an iconic ocean liner.
As Cunard brand manager Andrea Lenihan explains; “an event voyage like Transatlantic Fashion Week means a lot of consideration to logistics. All the accessories from the collections need to be securely and safely stored on board. There also needs to be space for the professional models to get ready and hair and make-up to be applied ahead of each runway show. Fortunately, we’re able to accommodate this by using our Queens Ballroom to host the events and the next door nightclub as the staging area.”
As well as welcoming established industry names, each Transatlantic Fashion Week voyage also gives a platform to new and emerging industry talent, never seen before. To this end, Cunard works in partnership with the Graduate Fashion Foundation - the charitable organisation behind Graduate Fashion Week - to give selected designers the chance to showcase their graduate collections on board. For those in attendance, it’s a rare opportunity to see the next generation of future design talent make their debut at the very cusp of their careers.
While Transatlantic Fashion Week offers guests the opportunity to immerse week-long in the world of fashion, the Southampton to New York sailing on Queen Mary 2 is open to all. As Andrea explains;
“There’s a warm and inclusive atmosphere on board that everyone enjoys. We regularly welcome guests who just want to be at sea for several days. With a theatre, spa, planetarium, art gallery and library on Queen Mary 2 as well as pools, bars and restaurants, there’s so much to do in addition to the fashion week itinerary. Not to mention it’s an opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Hollywood greats like Audrey Hepburn and Clark Gable.”
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