Transatlantic Fashion Week made waves when Cunard brought the glamorous world of fashion to the high seas for the very first time in 2016. Now, it’s not only a highly anticipated event on the Cunard calendar, but is a star on the international fashion scene, too. Here’s a glimpse into how the initial idea developed, and what lucky guests on board Queen Mary 2 can look forward to this year…
Gail Sackloff OBE is consultant to the international fashion industry, and was instrumental in conceiving and establishing this amazing event: ‘I’ve been an enthusiastic Cunard guest for more than 15 years – it’s my favorite way to travel!’ she says. ‘One day, I had lunch with Angus Struthers [Vice President of Marketing and UK Sales] 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 curate it.’
Along with Gail, the fashion historian and style commentator Colin McDowell MBE came on board to help bring the ambitious plan to life, working closely with Cunard’s dedicated entertainment team. The pair’s combined knowledge of the industry, unparalleled access to leading designers and fashion experts, together with a clear understanding of what was required to offer Cunard guests a cruise holiday like no other, ensured a sparkling event filled with glamour, insight and fun. ‘It was a bit nerve-racking,’ laughs Gail, ‘but we were all confident that it would be a resounding success – and luckily, that proved to be the case!’
Behind the scenes.
As with all the Event Voyages on Cunard cruises, there’s a wealth of planning and collaboration required to bring the entire jigsaw together – from booking the designers and experts to casting the Storm Agency models and all the necessary entourage, such as make-up artists and dressers. Then, of course, comes the detailed planning of a week-long programme of talks and presentations, hosted dinners, catwalk shows and much more.
‘An Event Voyage like Transatlantic Fashion Week also means a lot of consideration has to be given to logistics,’ explains Cunard Brand Manager, Andrea Lenihan. ‘For instance, all the clothes and accessories from the collections need to be safely stored – we use our locked meeting rooms on board. There also needs to be adequate space for the professional models with their hairdressers and make-up artists to get ready before the fashion shows. Luckily, these take place in the Queen’s Room Ballroom, which is conveniently next to our nightclub and also has changing rooms, so that’s not a problem!’
But how is the magnificent ballroom transformed into a ‘salon’ for the shows during the crossing? ‘We don’t install a raised runway,’ says Andrea. ‘Instead, the room is organised so that the catwalk cuts across the dance floor, with rows of chairs arranged on either side, and our on-board technical and lighting teams ensure music and light effects create the right atmosphere. It’s a very exciting aspect of the overall event.’
A rich experience.
The 2019 Transatlantic Fashion Week was brimming with glamorous on-board cruise ship entertainment, from catwalk shows to insider talks, workshops, hosted dinners and much more. Along with esteemed fashion experts Gail Sackloff MBE and Colin McDowell MBE, headline names included legendary milliner Stephen Jones OBE (whose dazzling designs were featured on the catwalk), along with fashion greats such as Stuart Weitzman, Rose Marie Bravo CBE and Lindy Woodhead.
Transatlantic Fashion Week also provides a fantastic opportunity to champion new and emerging talent, and Cunard is delighted to partner with the Graduate Fashion Foundation, a world-leading charitable organization that is behind Graduate Fashion Week. Last year, six graduates, selected by the Foundation and Colin McDowell MBE, showcased pieces from their graduate collections on the runway.
While the event provides guests with a true insight into a fascinating world, Transatlantic Fashion Week is certainly not just aimed at the fashionistas on board. ‘There’s a warm, inclusive atmosphere that everyone will enjoy, even if you don’t slavishly follow fashion,’ says Andrea. The immersive experience means everyone mingles, creating a fun and informal atmosphere: ‘It’s like a house party on board a beautiful ship!’ is the way one guest has described it.