HAVANA – Traditional guayabera shirts with “cold shoulders,” fabrics crocheted with alluring transparencies, silver belt buckles and jewelry shaped like white ginger, Cuba’s national flower, are among the eye-catching creations on show during Havana’s 3rd Fashion Week, an event highlighting fashion design Made in Cuba.
Until next Sunday, the former Tobacco and Timber Warehouse in Old Havana will feature a large catwalk where Cuban taste, fantasy and practicality are on parade, along with other creations like jackets that might not be terribly suitable for the Cuban climate.
The Fashion Week program brings together young artists and veterans like Elsa Ruiz, who for decades has used the tie-dye technique to creatively color fabrics like flimsy cotton and chiffon.
“I’ve been doing this since the 1980s. It’s like playing with inks and tonalities,” she told EFE after presenting her collection full of cheerful tones, sheer fabrics and “cold shoulders,” almost a necessity in a country where summer seems forever.
Ruiz speaks up for “fashion made in Cuba for Cuba” that is adapted to the tastes and needs of the island’s “climate and light.”
The public seemed to agree, judging by the way it applauded fashionista Maya Sierra, who “undressed” her models with delicate and suggestive dresses and pant suits made with the traditional crocheting technique.
Also roundly applauded were the designs of young Yamara Arcia, who modernized Cuba’s traditional guayabera shirt, which in the last century was part of everyday menswear but which is now reserved for special occasions, being somewhat pricey.
“The idea was to create a more modern image while keeping it very Cuban... to rescue this typical article while making it much more contemporary with both men’s and women’s versions,” she told EFE.
With the opening of a private sector in this socialist economy, start-up enterprises like Clandestina have appeared, Cuba’s first fashion store and also the first on the island to market its designs around the world through its Web site.
We’re the first, but hopefully we’re not the last,” the Spaniard Leire Fernandez, founder of the project with Cuban designer Idania del Rio, told EFE.
According to Fernandez, the fact that the store offers products designed in Cuba and made in the USA is one more way “to overcome the obstacles” imposed by the fragile relations between the two countries, as well as offering “the chance for Cuban entrepreneurs to sell their products around the world,” something unheard of up to now.