When Catwalks Mean Politics
Chanel’s presence in the controversial island set the stage for a new wave of catwalk displays.
One cannot refrain from wondering what were Raul Castro’s thoughts as he saw Chanel models parade military shorts, berets Che Guevara T-shirts and, of course, cigars all sprinkled with haute couture creations. Did he think his reform agenda was making progress. Or did he think he was witnessing the crumbling of the communist empire built by his brother and operated by him.
Regardless of what his thoughts were, Chanel’s presence in the controversial island set the stage for a new wave of catwalk displays that besides presenting the season collections make strong political statements as to where should the A-list travel and peruse. The show while presenting the summer and spring styles also extended Chanel’s warm invitation to leaders of the apparel industry to set foot in Cuba. And while the government of Cuba was conspicuously absent from the pageant, most press releases praised the visit.
Upon departure; Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel’s creator launched a new business for private citizens in Cuba: that of embroidery which he thought held the best price/quality relation in the world. Needless to elaborate on how many suppliers of embroidery for haute couture are now marauding government offices in Havana to get permission to establish outlets there.
And as the world was still absorbing Chanel’s bold decision, Louis Vuitton jumped on the Olympic ship to present its collection at the Oscar Neimeyer created Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum in Rio de Janeiro. The choice underlined Vuitton’s taste for adventure and for the unknown. Brazil is a country in political turmoil, as the head of state is undergoing an impeachment process.
The country is also experiencing a bout of sika virus while the population is disgruntled over a continuingly falling GDP and continuously increasing bill for Olympic sites. Vuitton’s catwalk choice underlined its adherence to emerging markets where its sales are the greatest and its determination to continue to be leading luxury brand in Brazil .The boutarde however came at a cost. Many Brazilians enraged with what they considered a support to the government threatened with throwing their priced handbags to the sea. We expect to soon see Balmain in Moscow and Stella McCartney in Disneyland which just turned 60 years old.