Chanel Summers in Singapore

Chanel always goes on holiday between Paris fashion weeks. From Mumbai in 2011 to Versailles in 2012, Karl Lagerfeld understands the transporting power of a destination collection and knows to break it out for his pre-fall and resort shows. This season, he took Chanel friends and family on a sojourn to Singapore—a perfectly summery place—to show a laidback collection of woven whites and easy, wide-legged looks.

But Lagerfeld never really takes a break, least of all when designing Chanel Cruise. Resort collections are often the hardest-working of the year—they stay on the racks for months driving sales between fall and spring—and Lagerfeld is among the hardest-working designers to put them out.

Last week, Lagerfeld set up a Singaporean cabana at Chanel’s New York headquarters for the collection’s press presentation, and on closer inspection, the collection was much more of a technical feat than its breezy look would let on. Lace laminated in latex, expanses of hand-beaded embroidery, and intricately crocheted patterns all spoke to Chanel’s usual obsession with craft, but here they took on a new, exotic life. A lineup of leather pumps were covered in all-over seersucker, while the finish on another set was treated to look like paint cracking in the summer heat. The black-and-white knit swimsuits in super-soft wool may not have been especially practical, but no matter. They’ll look great lying idly by the pool.