The Chanel Cruise Docks in Havana, Cuba
Hundreds of Americans descended on Havana on Tuesday afternoon eager to take in sights and sounds that had been more or less forbidden by a nearly 60-year-old trade embargo. On the one hand, there were the passengers of the first American ocean liner to dock in the city in decades, their arrival greeted ecstatically by locals as another welcome sign of the thaw in Cuban-American relations. As Cubans lined up to take pictures of the cruise ship sailing into the harbor, one tour guide overheard a local exclaim, “How can I not love you, Obama, if you bring me a floating hotel?” But there was another contingent just getting into town: Chanel flew in hundreds and hundreds of celebrities - Tilda Swinton, Gisele, Gaspard Ulliel - clients and editors to witness the unveiling of Karl Lagerfeld’s cruise collection on the historic Paseo del Prado boulevard. From their respective hotels, they were all chauffeured to the promenade in Buicks, Oldsmobiles and Cadillacs in neon colors, all the while taking selfies alongside El Malecon and the palm tree-lined streets. Cubans, meanwhile, gathered to take in the spectacle from the perch of sidewalks, terraces and rooftops, so that entire collection unfurled more like a public parade, with models like Stella Tennant and Lindsey Wixson strutting down the long, kaleidoscopic marble runway to the sound of a latin beat. Lagerfeld’s collection riffed on classic Cuban motifs from its pre-revolutionary heyday - mambo music, guayaberas, Tropicana - and its pastel colors matched those of the buildings and cars in the periphery. Lagerfeld took his bow with Hudson Kroenig and the Los Rumberos de Cuba closed the show with a musical performance, followed by a party at the Plaza de la Catedral in Old Havana where El Mambo Kaiser danced with Sandra Brant.