Nothing screams luxury like a spontaneous getaway to a tropical location. The fashion industry seeks to embody this lavish lifestyle by revealing their resort wear collections in seemingly exotic destinations, such as Louis Vuitton in Palm Springs, California, Miu Miu in Paris, and Dior in Cote d’Azur. Past Chanel collections have revolutionized the runway in Miami, Venice, Singapore, Seoul and Dubai; however, designer Karl Lagerfeld announced the 2017 Chanel Resort Wear collection will make its debut on May 3, 2016 in Havana, Cuba — the capital of an impoverished, communist country plagued by both economic and human rights issues.
Cuba and the United States restored full diplomatic ties in July after relations between the two were severed during the Cold War. Lagerfeld’s decision signifies the first fashion production in Cuba since diplomatic relations have been restored. Although the political dispute has since ended, domestic travel to Cuba remains greatly restricted. For the fashion industry, perhaps, this level of exclusivity and forbidden allure gives Cuba a timely edge.
In a release from Chanel, the “cultural richness and opening up of Cuba” inspired Karl Lagerfeld. However, Lagerfeld is not the first fashion mogul to find ingenuity in Cuba. In fact, Havana appears to be represented in distinguished editorials throughout the
September issues of “W” and “Marie Claire.” Ripe with colorful, pastel streets and an authentic 1950s feel, the tropical island appears to be frozen in time. Cuba provides a unique and intriguing backdrop for both fashion shows and shoots, and is extremely desirable due to its timely allure and location only 330 miles from U.S. soil.
Perhaps the Chanel show will promote future tourism or economic in Cuba. Cuba’s history, color, climate and architectural aesthetic grab the attention of designers who wish to stay relevant and transcend the limits of current fashion show trends. However, it seems inconsiderate for extravagant clothes and privileged designers to inundate a country still extremely impoverished for the sole purpose of utilizing the nation as a backdrop for a luxurious resort wear show. Although U.S. fashion might be able to effectively capture the beauty of Cuba, it would be an impossible feat to accurately represent its fascinating charm without disrespectfully disregarding its countless years of hardship.
As domestic travel availability continues to slowly increase and the complicated history between Cuba and the United States dissolves into a worry of the past, Cuba will begin to lose the exclusivity factor the fashion industry fed upon. It seems likely the fashion spotlight currently illuminating Cuba will begin to dim as the once forbidden island gradually transforms into another vacation destination. But for now, Cuba appears to be representative of an intriguing stage for Lagerfeld to display and promote his latest creations in the highly anticipated Chanel Resort Wear 2017 Collection.
Published in Features section of Washington Square News