French fashion house Chanel has put on its first Latin American catwalk show in Havana, the newly opened-up capital of Cuba. Actors Tilda Swinton, Geraldine Chaplin and Vin Diesel, supermodel Gisele Bundchen and Cuban music stars Gente de Zona and Omara Portuondo were among those joining the international jet setters on the red carpet to see Karl Lagerfeld’s latest collection. The German designer took in the rich colours and style of the Caribbean island which has been left out in the cold for years because of its communist ideals. In announcing the show, Chanel said that “the cultural richness and the opening up of Cuba to the world have turned it into a source of inspiration”.
A lot of Cuban cigars, colours and hats from another era. It represented a Cuba that doesn’t interest me right now, because today’s Cuba is another, more contemporary Cuba.
Local designer and artist Idania del Rio, 33
The balconies of old Havana were crowded with Cubans straining to catch a glimpse of the stars who had jetted in for the event. There was a marked contrast between the opulence of the tightly guarded venue and the poverty of the ordinary shorts and T-shirt wearing Cubans who were looking in. "What a sight,“ said one lady, who said she had never seen so much luxury and showbiz style in one place. "But I would have liked to be closer to the models." The Chanel show was the latest in a number of international cultural events announced since the opening up of diplomatic and commercial relations between the US and Cuba.