Chanel Cruise with a Havana Beat

Chanel Cruise 2017

In keeping with his trailblazing roots, Karl Lagerfeld recently staged the first international fashion show in Cuba since the 1959 communist takeover by Fidel Castro. Along with a supporting cast of 500 elite fashion models, makeup and hair artists, seamstresses, staging crew members and 100 VIP guests, Lagerfeld showcased Chanel’s Cruise 2017 collection on the open air boulevard of Havana’s Paseo de Prado.

Chanel Cruise

The Chanel Cruise show was held at sunset on the grand pedestrian promenade, which acts as the unofficial dividing line between old and new Havana. Covered with polished marble and framed by old world street lights, large trees and marble benches, the venue was fitting for the quintessentially French fashion house as French landscape artist Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier was responsible for its re-design back in 1928.

Shadowy and Smoky tone

The Chanel Cruise collection opened with a stylish black and white ensemble that was elegant yet wearable and youthful. Made up of a loose black jacket over a white blouse and wide-legged pinstripe cuffed pants accessorized with a beautiful pearl necklace, fedora and two-tone shoes, the look conveyed a shadowy and smoky tone.

“Viva Coco Libre!”

Flowing dresses with swirly calf length lace skirts were donned by many models as they paraded down the runway. Some of my favourite pieces were the 50’s automobile print dresses in beachy pinks, lemons and aqua greens. Overall, there was a definite casual attitude to the collection with Largerfeld showing sandals, straw fedoras and a t-shirt imprinted with the cheeky message “Viva Coco Libre!”.

The beret acted as the bridge between France and Cuba in this collection. Lagerfeld topped many looks with the seminal French hat which is also a salute to Che Guevara, a major figure of the Cuban revolution. In another nod to Cuba’s rich history, for the finale, models, musicians and even Lagerfeld himself danced a lively conga line.

New Openness

The Chanel Cruise collection has always been an international affair. Past shows have been held in exotic venues such as Dubai, Scotland and Seoul. However, this event was certainly more controversial as 57 years of Castro’s socialist ideals and anti-Americanism have left their mark on the streets of Havana and Cuba’s diplomatic and commercial relations are only just beginning to open up.

Despite the interest in the collection from both international celebrities and regular Cubans alike, as the average monthly wage on the island equates to about US$25, it’s going be awhile before Chanel opens a boutique in Havana. Nevertheless, the show was a welcome sign of hope for future openness for the people of Cuba.

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