Cuba gets High Fashion with No Shame

By Martin Guevara

The star of the show was designer Karl Lagerfeld.  Photo:

HAVANA TIMES — Mao, Lenin, Trotsky, Ulan Bator, Ho Chi Min, Tito, even Stalin, they all had the decency to die as the mass murderers they were, sticking to their principles and their messianic madness, varnished with claims of a struggle on behalf of the proletariat.

But Raul and Fidel Castro, the sultans, they’re okay with everything provided the world allows them to continue enjoying the benefits of their absolutist monarchy.

A daughter of the Cuban monarch, as well as a son and grandson of the voracious emperor and demiurge Fidel, attended Chanel’s May 3 fashion show down Havana’s Paseo promenade.

Average citizens, who could never in their lives dream of buying even the cheapest of these French perfumes, were kept at bay, three hundred meters away, by a thick police line.

Even for me, who has always regarded them as barefaced liars who were never true communists or anything having to do with altruism and utopias, who know very well that what has moved them their entire lives has been something as base as absolute power, could not have imagined they would be so shameless, so brass, as to do something like this.

It is unbearable to see these tyrants, who spent their lives repressing people, celebrate something that represents everything that was once strictly forbidden by them.

Elitism, an apologetics of class differences, high living standards, consumerism, the right to accumulate wealth, the freedom to dress in the style one chooses, capitalist good taste, bourgoeis excellent taste, the importance of owning more than our peers, these things probably are best represented by the Chanel brand and its yearly fashion show.

This is total bullshit!

This high fashion show in the heart of Havana, staged for the enjoyment of bigwigs and their relatives, businesspeople and the jet set at the moment when the population faces the cruelest hardships, strikes one as an unnecessary act of cruelty, as pure mockery, a show of power, particularly so close to the categorical announcement that new restrictions are coming, frustrating hopes of political change, economic improvement, greater participation by civil society in decisions affecting Cuba’s future and dumping a bucket of ice water on the people at the close of the Party Congress.

Following these incursions by mid-sized capital, penetrating the island like survey balloons, the big fish are sure to come and then, once the unwritten non-aggression and even mutual cooperation pacts with big Western powers are closed, the opposition, the conscientious objectors, the prisoners, the dissatisfied, the disaffected, those against the monarchy of the Castromasov Brothers, will truly have a tremendously lonely road and many sacrifices ahead, deprived of all international solidarity.

Surprisingly, people are starting to rebel precisely when the world offers the dynasty more support than ever (thanks to the concessions made by the big boss), at a time when Western democracies are sure to turn a blind eye on human rights violations on the island.

We run the risk of seeing what happened in Russia or China: when Coca Cola and Chase Manhattan got in, big capital stopped caring about the rights of the opposition.

Now, when abuses against those who think different cease to be news for media corporations is when we must be more vigilant and outspoken than ever.

15 thoughts on “Cuba gets High Fashion with No Shame

  • Do you think they did the right thing in allowing this event to take place? Did they behave like a responsible government?

  • This Chanel show is like an insult to the Cuban people that do not have access to tiese events, to go to restaurants and hotels, and no food of their choice, they have to live stroglying to be able to have a decent meal. They have to wait for their families and friends from Miami to send them cloth. Of course the Cuban elite, like Fidel and Raul Castros families do have privileges, like Antonio Castro one of Fidel.s sons, travels the Mediterranean in His luxury Yacht

  • You may want to review the history of the Castros et al.
    The Castros are not a responsible government. They implemented a vicious repression of the Cuban people for (56) years ruining a wonderful country.
    Cuba libre.

  • True, most Americans can’t afford Chanel, but the fact remains that there is a bougeoise in the USA that can afford Chanel just like there was one in Cuba before castro destroyed it. And besides, Americans were not forced to live in “revolutionary” austerity for 57 years and sanctimoniously forced-fed a menu of “communist” lies like Cubans were. All of this “new man,” all of the sacrifices and repression for this? So that a handful of castro’s family and foreigners can enjoy this opulence? Whatever shred of pretence was left was ripped off and the ugly truth that Cuban exiles constantly spoke about [and nobody listened] is staring back in the face of the world.

  • Martin, I can understand your frustrations. This high fashion event is a slap in the face to all the Cuban citizens that leave their country to provide a better life for their families (like my mother & father did as the government took our sugar cane farm) and the millions more that have been indoctrinated for the past 50+ years to believe that capitalism, money, nice things and luxury items are evil, to be avoided and against the revolution. May God help the people of Cuba.

  • Martin, I can understand your frustration. This high fashion event is an unashamed celebration of opulence and luxury that the revolution has denounced for 50+ years and denied it’s citizens from ever pursuing. Under the revolution, the mass of Cuban citizens have been forbidden the freedom to excel in industry, business, music, science or literature long enough to gain human dignity and earn a living wage, never mind become wealthy to afford luxuries such as these.

  • This type of thing has been going on for a long time, it just more high profile now! — SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE : A sweet life if you belong to Cuba’s upper crust- September 29, 2011 – Jonathan Curiel – Now there is Michael Dweck’s photo project that shows Cuba’s privileged side – a side of beautiful models, late-night partiers, daytime surfers, hard-working guitar players and other people who make up Cuba’s “creative class,” as Dweck calls them. Two of Fidel Castro’s sons (Alex and Alejandro) are on the periphery of this strata. So is the son of Che Guevara, Camilo Guevara, who’s a photographer. “Artists, writers, filmmakers, dancers – they live this secretive life under the radar in Cuba that is really cool and lends itself well to a narrative,” says Dweck. “I’m playing on the theme of privilege in a classless society.”

    Not surprisingly, some Cubans didn’t want to cooperate with Dweck. One woman he met there told him, “I think this project is going to get a lot of people in trouble, and you’re on your own.” But Dweck, based in New York City, was never really on his own. Within hours of first flying to Havana, he befriended a well-connected British expat who told him about a private party at an old 20,000-square-foot oceanside residence, where Dweck met Cubans he would photograph for “Habana Libre.”


  • What a bigot that Martin Guevara. Really? Cuba should not have anything nice and remotely upscale?

  • Laissez le bon temps rouler.

  • No doubt it is galling for Cubans to be confronted with the easy life of tourists from rich countries. All the more so when it is wealth that is beyond most people even in the rich countries.
    Against this the Cuban government must ask itself what economic benefits come with these events. If it can be shown that he money from these events can ease the hardships of the Cuban people, then a responsible government should allow them.
    And it might be argued that events like this make Cuba seem less forbidding and alien to people in other countries.

  • Ulan Bator is indeed the name of the capital of Mongolia and it means ‘Red Hero’. There was no person by this name ever.

  • The classism of Cuba emerges.

  • Martin Guevara, outside Cuba those events are for the elite and yes, most Americans buy their clothes at Wal-Mart, Target or other lesser stores. They can’t afford Chanel, Hermes and the others either. But, after so many rants of “the principles are not negotiable”, I can understand your anger, that’s why I left, got tired of the same crap.

  • Dig it up, maybe you would learn more than a city name.

  • As nearly as i can tell, Ulan Bator is the name of a city and not a person.

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