Chanel Debuts First Fashion Show in Cuba

Chanel Cuba - Publicity - H 2016
Courtesy of Chanel

Chanel Cuba - Publicity - H 2016

Gisele Bundchen, Vin Diesel and Fidel Castro's grandson attended the high-fashion spectacle.

One haute Havana night: For Chanel’s first show in Cuba, designer Karl Lagerfeld sent models in Panama hats and Che Guevara-inspired sequin berets down El Paseo del Prado, a main thoroughfare, that’s the dividing line between Centro Habana and Old Havana. Lagerfeld’s muses Gisele Bundchen, a face of Chanel No. 5, and Vanessa Paradis were front-row along with Tilda Swinton and Vin Diesel, who is in Cuba shooting Fast and Furious 8. Former president Fidel Castro’s grandson Tony, an aspiring model who was rumored to be walking in the show, also was in attendance. "It is an honor for all Cubans for this big event to take place here," he told Reuters.

The Cruise 2016/17 collection harkened back to the glamorous, glory days of Cuba with vibrant Cadillac, Buick and Oldsmobile-printed dresses; embellished reinterpretations of guayaberas (the traditional Cuban shirts with pockets, which Lagerfeld dubbed a "Cuban tux"); two-tone spectator shoes; and cigar-box clutches. Colorful T-shirts were emblazoned with "Viva Coco Libre."

Chanel’s guests — 600 in attendance — were chauffeured to the show in candy-colored retro convertibles. And, while Chanel’s luxury goods are not available in Cuba, locals lined up to take in the glitzy spectacle, many of them watching from building balconies high above the main drag. For the final walk, models danced in a conga line with festivities continuing late into the night at Plaza de la Catedral in Old Havana, in front of San Cristobal, one of Latin America’s most beautiful 18th century churches.