Karl Lagerfeld’s recent Resort 2017 show for Chanel was historic not only for its insistence that the fedora and the trilby are still a viable millinery options, but for it being staged in Havana, Cuba.
As recently as last July, the city existed only as a Pinterest board fantasy for American tourists, meaning its status as the destination of Chanel’s far-flung show was something of milestone for the warming of diplomatic relations between Communist Cuba and the West.
So as the residents of the Paseo del Prado and several hundred of the brand’s international guests watched models (including Fidel Castro’s grandson, Tony) evoke mid-century pre-revolutionary Cuban glamour in glittering black berets of the kind sported by Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, it’s safe to say history was made in more ways than one.
Having hosted its first major runway show from an international fashion house, Cuba is sure to enjoy a spike in popularity as a holiday destination for the kinds of people for whom Resort collections are created. Should a night of dirty dancing in Havana be on the cards, here’s a cheatsheet to Cuba according to Chanel, replete with recommendations from the house’s family and special guests.
Credit: Supplied, Olivier Saillant via CHANEL
Stay at the Hotel Saratoga or Hotel Nacional
The number of Airbnb casa particulares in Cuba has grown from 1000 at the time of launch to almost 4000, meaning there’s no shortage of accommodation on offer across 40 of the island’s cities and towns. For the traveller with Chanel tastes on a champagne budgert, consider the Hotel Saratoga, where family members like casting director Aurelie Duclos and resident fit model Amanda Sanchez, who also walked in the show, stayed during their visit alongside Lagerfeld’s muse Brad Kroenig and his sons Hudson and Jameson.
Should there prove to be no room at that inn, try your luck at Hotel Nacional, the hotel whose guests have included Rita Hayworth, Frank Sinatra, Tennessee Williams, and now, Carine Roitfeld.
Dine at La Guarida or restaurante santy pescador
Not to be confused with the international airport in Queens, La Guarida (also a favourite of Natalie Portman) is where Lagerfeld dined on Nueva Cocina Cubana one evening with Kroenig and his sons, who just so happen to be the designer’s godsons. Kroenig, one of the most iconic male models of his era, also sampled the local delights before the show at the Saratoga’s idyllic bar. Should you require more sustenance than a thimble of hard liquor, Chanel’s longtime sound director Michel Gaubert and Sanchez also dined on fresh ceviche and sashimi at Restaurante Santy Pescador.
Visit Finica La Vigía, La Bodeguita Del Medio and bar floridita, Hemingway’s Haunts
Chanel’s other international guests, including Tilda Swinton and Vin Diesel (qué?), were also whisked away to San Francisco de Paula on a visit to Finca Vigía, Ernest Hemingway’s seaside home, where the author obsessively documented fluctuations in his weight above the scales in his bathroom (see below). It’s here that Hemingway also wrote The Old Man and the Sea and A Movable Feast, making it a must-see for those on a literary pilgrimage. La Bodeguita del Medio also proved to be a popular wateringhole for both Chanel’s guests and Hemingway alike, famed as it is for its mojitos.
Later, Hemingway’s chic as sin great-granddaughter Langley Fox Hemingway made another kind of pilgrimage to Bar Floridita, “the cradle of the daiquiri” where the famed author is alleged to have written his first draft of For Whom The Bell Tolls.
Visit FActoría Habana
As part of Chanel’s #CocoCuba extravaganza, guests were also invited to view an exhibition of Lagerfeld’s photographic work at Factoría Habana, contemporary arts space where the designer’s Work In Progress was shown and where local artists can practice and live in residence. Watch this space, should you ever find yourself in Havana with an hour to spare.