Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home News World

Celebrities jam Havana streets for Chanel's Cuban takeover

Published 04/05/2016

US actor Vin Diesel arrives at the Prado promenade in Havana, on May 3, 2016 to watch the Chanel performance. AFP/Getty Images
US actor Vin Diesel arrives at the Prado promenade in Havana, on May 3, 2016 to watch the Chanel performance. AFP/Getty Images
Chanel performance at the Prado promenade in Havana, on May 3, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOT - From their houses Cubans try to watch the Chanel performance at the Prado promenade in Havana, on May 3, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
EDS NOTE NUDITY - Models wear creations from the Karl Lagerfeld "cruise" line for fashion house Chanel, at the Paseo del Prado street in Havana, Cuba, Tuesday, May 3, 2016. With the heart of the Cuban capital effectively privatized by an international corporation under the watchful eye of the Cuban state, the premiere of Chanel 2016/2017 "cruise" line offered a startling sight in a country officially dedicated to social equality and the rejection of material wealth. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
U.S. Actor Vin Diesel gestures to the crowd watching the presentation of fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld's "cruise" line for fashion house Chanel, at the Paseo del Prado street in Havana, Cuba, Tuesday, May 3, 2016. With the heart of the Cuban capital effectively privatized by an international corporation under the watchful eye of the Cuban state, the premiere of Chanel 2016/2017 "cruise" line offered a startling sight in a country officially dedicated to social equality and the rejection of material wealth. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld arrives the presentation of his "cruise" line for fashion house Chanel, at the Paseo del Prado street in Havana, Cuba, Tuesday, May 3, 2016. With the heart of the Cuban capital effectively privatized by an international corporation under the watchful eye of the Cuban state, the premiere of Chanel 2016/2017 "cruise" line offered a startling sight in a country officially dedicated to social equality and the rejection of material wealth. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Canel's performance at the Prado promenade in Havana, on May 3, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
Performance of Chanel at the Prado promenade in Havana, on May 3, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
Chanel's performance at the Prado promenade in Havana, on May 3, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
From their houses Cubans try to watch the Chanel performance at the Prado promenade in Havana, on May 3, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
From their houses Cubans try to watch the Chanel performance at the Prado promenade in Havana, on May 3, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
From their houses Cubans try to watch the Chanel performance at the Prado promenade in Havana, on May 3, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
Cuban music Gente de Zona duo arrives at the Prado promenade in Havana, on May 3, 2016 to watch the Chanel performance. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
From their houses Cubans try to watch the Chanel performance at the Prado promenade in Havana, on May 3, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
Anglo-Scottish actress, performance artist, model, and fashion icon Tilda Swinton (L) arrives at the Prado promenade in Havana, on May 3, 2016 to watch the Chanel performance. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
Anglo-Scottish actress, performance artist, model, and fashion icon Tilda Swinton arrives at the Prado promenade in Havana, on May 3, 2016 to watch the Chanel performance. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
Cuban star singer of the Buena Vista Social Club music band, Omara Portuondo (R) arrives at the Prado promenade in Havana, on May 3, 2016 to watch the Chanel performance. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
German fashion designer, artist, and photographer Karl Lagerfeld (L) attends his performance for Chanel at the Prado promenade in Havana, on May 3, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
German fashion designer, artist, and photographer Karl Lagerfeld (L) attends his performance for Chanel at the Prado promenade in Havana, on May 3, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
German fashion designer, artist, and photographer Karl Lagerfeld (L) attends his performance for Chanel at the Prado promenade in Havana, on May 3, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
German fashion designer, artist, and photographer Karl Lagerfeld (C) attends his performance for Chanel at the Prado promenade in Havana, on May 3, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
German fashion designer, artist, and photographer Karl Lagerfeld (C) attends his performance for Chanel at the Prado promenade in Havana, on May 3, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
US actor Vin Diesel arrivesat the Prado promenade in Havana, on May 3, 2016 to watch the Chanel performance. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
German fashion designer, artist, and photographer Karl Lagerfeld (L) attends his performance for Chanel at the Prado promenade in Havana, on May 3, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images

Fashionistas and celebrities from around the world flocked to a grand Havana colonial avenue which was transformed into a private runway for French fashion house Chanel.

With hundreds of security agents holding ordinary Cubans behind police lines streets away, actors Tilda Swinton and Vin Diesel, supermodel Gisele Bundchen and Cuban music stars Gente de Zona and Omara Portuondo watched slender models sashay down Prado boulevard in casual summer clothes seemingly inspired by the art deco elegance of pre-revolutionary Cuba.

With the heart of the Cuban capital briefly privatised by an international corporation under the watchful eye of the Cuban state, the premiere of Chanel's 2016/2017 "cruise" line offered a startling sight in a country officially dedicated to social equality and the rejection of material wealth.

Chanel welcomed the chance to show its creations in an unusual spot. "To explore new horizons is a way to fire imaginations and renew the vision of our brand while sharing the culture and heritage of the locations chosen for our fashion shows," it said in a statement.

The show was the most extreme manifestation to date of the hot new status Cuba has assumed in the international art and cultural scene since the December 2014 declaration of detente with the United States.

President Barack Obama visited in March, the Rolling Stones performed in Havana the same week, the first US cruise in nearly four decades docked on Monday and the latest instalment of the multibillion-dollar Fast And Furious action movie franchise is filming here now.

Many Cubans say they are delighted their country is opening itself to the world, offering ordinary people a first-hand look at celebrities and extravagant productions.

But the rampant display of wealth on the streets of Havana is providing fodder for many already disenchanted by what they call Cuba's failure to deliver on promises of sustainable socialist equality.

Mabel Fernandez, a radio announcer, arrived four hours before the start of the show, eager to give her 14-year-old daughter a taste of a world of international fashion that she had only seen on television and in films.

"We need this type of event, these new developments, so people can learn more about culture," she said.

A man waves a Cuban flag at the Malecon waterfront as the first US-to-Cuba cruise ship to arrive in the island nation in decades glides into the port of Havana, on May 2, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
A man waves a Cuban flag at the Malecon waterfront as the first US-to-Cuba cruise ship to arrive in the island nation in decades glides into the port of Havana, on May 2, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
The first US-to-Cuba cruise ship to arrive in the island nation in decades glides into the port of Havana, on May 2, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
The first US-to-Cuba cruise ship to arrive in the island nation in decades remains docked at the port of Havana, on May 2, 2016. The first US cruise ship bound for Cuba in half a century, the Adonia -- a vessel from the Carnival cruise's Fathom line -- set sail from Florida on Sunday, marking a new milestone in the rapprochement between Washington and Havana. The ship -- with 700 passengers aboard -- departed from Miami, the heart of the Cuban diaspora in the United States. / AFP PHOTO / JORGE BELTRANJORGE BELTRAN/AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOT - A Cuban waves a US flag at the Malecon waterfront as the first US-to-Cuba cruise ship to arrive in the island nation in decades glides into the port of Havana, on May 2, 2016. The first US cruise ship bound for Cuba in half a century, the Adonia -- a vessel from the Carnival cruise's Fathom line -- set sail from Florida on Sunday, marking a new milestone in the rapprochement between Washington and Havana. The ship -- with 700 passengers aboard -- departed from Miami, the heart of the Cuban diaspora in the United States. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
The first US-to-Cuba cruise ship to arrive in the island nation in decades glides into the port of Havana, on May 2, 2016. The first US cruise ship bound for Cuba in half a century, the Adonia -- a vessel from the Carnival cruise's Fathom line -- set sail from Florida on Sunday, marking a new milestone in the rapprochement between Washington and Havana. The ship -- with 700 passengers aboard -- departed from Miami, the heart of the Cuban diaspora in the United States. / AFP PHOTO / JORGE BELTRANJORGE BELTRAN/AFP/Getty Images
Carnival's Adonia cruise ship arrives from Miami in Havana, Cuba, Monday, May 2, 2016. The Adonia's arrival is the first step toward a future in which thousands of ships a year could cross the Florida Straits, long closed to most U.S.-Cuba traffic due to tensions that once brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
The first US-to-Cuba cruise ship to arrive in the island nation in decades glides into the port of Havana, on May 2, 2016. The first US cruise ship bound for Cuba in half a century, the Adonia -- a vessel from the Carnival cruise's Fathom line -- set sail from Florida on Sunday, marking a new milestone in the rapprochement between Washington and Havana. The ship -- with 700 passengers aboard -- departed from Miami, the heart of the Cuban diaspora in the United States. / AFP PHOTO / ANA RODRIGUEZANA RODRIGUEZ/AFP/Getty Images
The first US-to-Cuba cruise ship to arrive in the island nation in decades glides into the port of Havana, on May 2, 2016. The first US cruise ship bound for Cuba in half a century, the Adonia -- a vessel from the Carnival cruise's Fathom line -- set sail from Florida on Sunday, marking a new milestone in the rapprochement between Washington and Havana. The ship -- with 700 passengers aboard -- departed from Miami, the heart of the Cuban diaspora in the United States. / AFP PHOTO / ANA RODRIGUEZANA RODRIGUEZ/AFP/Getty Images
Cubans wave a US and a Cuban flag at the Malecon waterfront as the first US-to-Cuba cruise ship to arrive in the island nation in decades glides into the port of Havana, on May 2, 2016. The first US cruise ship bound for Cuba in half a century, the Adonia -- a vessel from the Carnival cruise's Fathom line -- set sail from Florida on Sunday, marking a new milestone in the rapprochement between Washington and Havana. The ship -- with 700 passengers aboard -- departed from Miami, the heart of the Cuban diaspora in the United States. / AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUEADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOT - People display images of Cuban former president Fidel Castro during the May Day parade at Revolution Square in Havana, on May 1, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / JORGE BELTRANJORGE BELTRAN/AFP/Getty Images
Security agent looks over towards the Carnival Crop.'s Adonia as passengers board before it leaves port in Miami, Sunday, May 1, 2016, en route to Cuba. After a half-century of waiting, passengers finally set sail on Sunday from Miami on an historic cruise to Cuba. Carnival's Cuba cruises, operating under its Fathom band, will visit the ports of Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba. (Carl Juste/The Miami Herald via AP) MAGS OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT
The protest boat "Democracia" sails pass Carnival Corp.'s Adonia before it leaves port in Miami, Sunday, May 1, 2016, en route to Cuba. After a half-century of waiting, passengers finally set sail on Sunday from Miami on an historic cruise to Cuba. Carnival's Cuba cruises, operating under its Fathom band, will visit the ports of Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba. (Carl Juste/The Miami Herald via AP) MAGS OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT
People take photos as Adonia leaves port in Miami, Sunday, May 1, 2016, en route to Cuba. After a half-century of waiting, passengers finally set sail on Sunday from Miami on an historic cruise to Cuba. Carnival's Cuba cruises, operating under its Fathom band, will visit the ports of Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba. (Patrick Farrell/The Miami Herald via AP) MAGS OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT
The Cuban rights protest group Democracia escorts the Fathom cruise ship Adonia as she leaves Miami Beach, Florida with fanfare and water cannons on her inaugural seven-day voyage to Cuba in Miami Beach on May 1, 2016. The first US cruise ship bound for Cuba in half a century set sail from Florida on Sunday, May 1st, marking a new milestone in the rapprochement between Washington and Havan / AFP PHOTO / Gaston De CardenasGASTON DE CARDENAS/AFP/Getty Images
The Cuban rights protest group Democracia escorts the Fathom cruise ship Adonia as she leaves Miami Beach, Florida with fanfare and water cannons on her inaugural seven-day voyage to Cuba in Miami Beach on May 1, 2016. The first US cruise ship bound for Cuba in half a century set sail from Florida on Sunday, May 1st, marking a new milestone in the rapprochement between Washington and Havan / AFP PHOTO / Gaston De CardenasGASTON DE CARDENAS/AFP/Getty Images
A member of the police directs a police dog as they sweep the restricted area near Carnival Corp.'s Adonia before it leaves port in Miami, Sunday, May 1, 2016, en route to Cuba. After a half-century of waiting, passengers finally set sail on Sunday from Miami on an historic cruise to Cuba. Carnival's Cuba cruises, operating under its Fathom band, will visit the ports of Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba. (Carl Juste/The Miami Herald via AP) MAGS OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT
The Fathom cruise ship Adonia departs Miami Beach, Florida with fanfare and water cannons on her inaugural seven-day voyage to Cuba on May 1, 2016. The first US cruise ship bound for Cuba in half a century set sail from Florida on Sunday, May 1st, marking a new milestone in the rapprochement between Washington and Havan / AFP PHOTO / Gaston De CardenasGASTON DE CARDENAS/AFP/Getty Images
Man takes a smartphone photo of the Fathom cruise ship Adonia as she departs Miami Beach, Florida on her inaugural seven-day voyage to Cuba on May 1, 2016. The first US cruise ship bound for Cuba in half a century set sail from Florida on Sunday, May 1st, marking a new milestone in the rapprochement between Washington and Havan / AFP PHOTO / Gaston De CardenasGASTON DE CARDENAS/AFP/Getty Images
The Fathom cruise ship Adonia departs Miami Beach, Florida with fanfare and water cannons on her inaugural seven-day voyage to Cuba on May 1, 2016. The first US cruise ship bound for Cuba in half a century set sail from Florida on Sunday, May 1st, marking a new milestone in the rapprochement between Washington and Havan / AFP PHOTO / Gaston De CardenasGASTON DE CARDENAS/AFP/Getty Images
The first US-to-Cuba cruise ship to arrive in the island nation in decades remains docked at the port of Havana, on May 2, 2016. The first US cruise ship bound for Cuba in half a century, the Adonia -- a vessel from the Carnival cruise's Fathom line -- set sail from Florida on Sunday, marking a new milestone in the rapprochement between Washington and Havana. The ship -- with 700 passengers aboard -- departed from Miami, the heart of the Cuban diaspora in the United States. / AFP PHOTO / JORGE BELTRANJORGE BELTRAN/AFP/Getty Images
Passengers stand on the deck of Carnival's Adonia cruise ship as they arrive from Miami in Havana, Cuba, Monday, May 2, 2016. The Adonia's arrival is the first step toward a future in which thousands of ships a year could cross the Florida Straits, long closed to most U.S.-Cuba traffic due to tensions that once brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Passengers on board Carnival's Adonia cruise ship wave flags as they arrive from Miami in Havana, Cuba, Monday, May 2, 2016. The Adonia's arrival is the first step toward a future in which thousands of ships a year could cross the Florida Straits, long closed to most U.S.-Cuba traffic due to tensions that once brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. (Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP) MAGS OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT
The first US-to-Cuba cruise ship to arrive in the island nation in decades remains docked at the port of Havana, on May 2, 2016. The first US cruise ship bound for Cuba in half a century, the Adonia -- a vessel from the Carnival cruise's Fathom line -- set sail from Florida on Sunday, marking a new milestone in the rapprochement between Washington and Havana. The ship -- with 700 passengers aboard -- departed from Miami, the heart of the Cuban diaspora in the United States. / AFP PHOTO / JORGE BELTRANJORGE BELTRAN/AFP/Getty Images
The first US-to-Cuba cruise ship to arrive in the island nation in decades remains docked at the port of Havana, on May 2, 2016. The first US cruise ship bound for Cuba in half a century, the Adonia -- a vessel from the Carnival cruise's Fathom line -- set sail from Florida on Sunday, marking a new milestone in the rapprochement between Washington and Havana. The ship -- with 700 passengers aboard -- departed from Miami, the heart of the Cuban diaspora in the United States. / AFP PHOTO / JORGE BELTRANJORGE BELTRAN/AFP/Getty Images
The first US-to-Cuba cruise ship to arrive in the island nation in decades docks at the port of Havana, on May 2, 2016. The first US cruise ship bound for Cuba in half a century, the Adonia -- a vessel from the Carnival cruise's Fathom line -- set sail from Florida on Sunday, marking a new milestone in the rapprochement between Washington and Havana. The ship -- with 700 passengers aboard -- departed from Miami, the heart of the Cuban diaspora in the United States. / AFP PHOTO / ANA RODRIGUEZANA RODRIGUEZ/AFP/Getty Images
Passengers stand on the deck of Carnival's Adonia cruise ship as they arrive from Miami in Havana, Cuba, Monday, May 2, 2016. Havana's Christ statue stands behind. The Adonia's arrival is the first step toward a future in which thousands of ships a year could cross the Florida Straits, long closed to most U.S.-Cuba traffic due to tensions that once brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

But as police swarmed the area in the hours before the show, virtually all residents of the capital were swept behind yellow barricades and unbroken lines of uniformed and plain-clothes police at least a street away.

Reinaldo Fonseca, a local model, stood with a group of friends similarly trying to make their careers in fashion and watched as rich foreigners with invitations arrived at the event in specially rented antique American saloon cars.

"It's a shame they don't let us pass," he said.

The show ended with the models dancing down Prado to the drumming and singing of an Afro-Cuban band.

Afterwards, attendees were taken to Havana's Cathedral Plaza, an 18th-century Baroque gem transformed into a beach-themed party backdrop by the erection of a giant tiki-style bar and dance floor over its colonial cobblestones.

Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld, 82, arrived in a blue-and-cream 1957 Ford Fairlane, picking his way gingerly towards the VIP section of the tiki hut as his gold-sequined jacket glinted in the lights of the dance floor.

Models danced during a brief private concert by French-Cuban duo Ibeyi as waitresses handed out hors d'oeuvres and cocktails to the gathered crowd.

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph