Oct 20, 2017 | By Jessica Harman
It has to be the publicity coup of the year (so far).
French fashion house Chanel hosted the first ever international catwalk show in Communist-ruled Cuba on Tuesday.
Staged on Havana’s main boulevards before 600 guests (including the top 100 Chanel customers), no wonder the world’s press lapped up a show of pure glamour, featuring glittering gowns, tulle cocktail dresses and models in Panama hats smoking cigars.
The event surely capped the formal agreement between the US and Cuba to restore diplomatic relations last July.
Celebrities flew in for the show that evoked the elegance of pre-revolutionary Cuba, arriving at the venue in vintage convertibles.
The Cuban contingent included former President Fidel Castro’s grandson Tony, a 17-year-old aspiring model who said of the event: “It is an honour for all Cubans for this big event to take place here.”
Chanel’s creative director Karl Lagerfeld said his latest pre-collection was inspired by the “cultural richness and opening up of Cuba.”
He added the show allowed the house to “explore new horizons… to fire imaginations and renew the vision of our brand while sharing the culture and heritage of the locations chosen for our fashion shows.”
During a 25-minute show set to live Cuban music, his models walked a 525 ft section of the leafy Paseo del Prado, lined with ornate street lamps and bronze lions.
Cultural motifs in the new line included the use of vintage car motif on T-shirts and other items, the American vintage cars being one of the key style features many outsiders instantly associate with Havana. Sequinned black berets also recalled the non-sequinned one sported by Che Guevara, a national hero in Cuba.
By showcasing its Cruise collection in Cuba, Chanel has said it was harking back to the roots of the line, originally designed for wealthy Americans holidaying on yachts and cruises in the Caribbean to escape the winter grey.
Chanel Fashion president Bruno Pavlovsky, who admitted the house only received permission from the Cuban authorities to stage the show in March, said he was confident the house would achieve double-digit growth for the cruise collection despite a challenging economic backdrop.
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