Chanel brings glamor back to Cuba in catwalk extravaganza

Wed May 4, 2016 11:02am EDT
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By Sarah Marsh

HAVANA (Reuters) - French fashion house Chanel brought glamor back to Communist-ruled Cuba on Tuesday in a runway show on one of Havana's main boulevards, featuring glittering gowns, tulle cocktail dresses and models in Panama hats smoking cigars.

Chanel is the first major fashion house to hold a runway show in Cuba, highlighting both warming relations with the West and new inequalities on the island.

Former Cold War foes the United States and Cuba formally agreed to restore diplomatic relations last July.

Celebrities, including actress Tilda Swinton and supermodel Gisele Bundchen, jetted into the Caribbean island 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, an aspiring model, which raised some eyebrows, given the leader's railings against capitalism.

"It is an honor for all Cubans for this big event to take place here," said Castro, 17, whose grandfather was also known for his good looks as a young revolutionary.

Karl Lagerfeld, who has been at Chanel's creative helm since 1983, has said his latest inter-seasonal Cruise collection was inspired by the "cultural richness and opening up of Cuba."

Cuban motifs in the new Cruise line were exemplified in a fabric depicting turquoise and pink vintage cars used for leisurewear such as jackets, a bathrobe and skirts.   Continued...

Brazilian top model Gisele Bundchen poses before a fashion show by German designer Karl Lagerfeld as part of his latest inter-seasonal Cruise collection for fashion house Chanel at the Paseo del Prado street in Havana, Cuba, May 3, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini