Fashion's elite have descended upon Cuba for Chanel's Cruise show (in what is a nearly all-expenses paid-for-by-Chanel trip, (insert Federal Trade Commission violations/journalistic ethics concerns here)). The show itself, which has drawn an array of celebrities (Tilda Swinton); editors; supermodels like Gisele and Mariacarla Boscono; and tastemakers, is slated to take place on Tuesday evening. The Paris-based design house, which is under the creative control of Karl Lagerfeld, is the first major fashion house to send models down the catwalk in Cuba, highlighting warming relations between former Cold War foes - the U.S. and Cuba - and beyond.
Lagerfeld, who is known to globe-hop for his pre-season shows (prior events have been held in Dubai, Rome, Seoul, Dallas, Salzburg, etc.), has said this season's Cruise collection was inspired by the "cultural richness and opening up of Cuba." Chanel Fashion Chief Bruno Pavlovsky told Reuters that the Chanel team was uncertain at first if it would be allowed to hold the show but said Cuban authorities had been "very welcoming and helpful."
While logistics of the show did not prove problematic, the location has still certainly raised some eyebrows. While such a production will certainly aid in attracting tourism, there is still merited pushback in terms of whether this is an overly opportunistic and insensitive move given that the country is still extremely rife with poverty.
According to Reuters, “While many Cubans are excited to have Chanel in town, some are critical. Chanel goods are not sold in Cuba and most locals could not even dream of affording them, given even a small handbag costs thousands of dollars. About 70 percent of Cuban workers work for the state with an average salary of $25 per month.” This certainly poses questions about the appropriateness of the show's locale, particularly given what Cuban model, Naivi Fernandez, says is a country founded upon inclusiveness.
As for whether Chanel will be expanding onto Cuban soil anytime soon, Pavlovsky said it is too early to tell. However, Chanel, which has fewer than 200 boutiques worldwide, has not yet ruled against the move for years to come.