After failing to close Guantanamo Bay, President Obama may leave office succeeding in opening up the rest of Cuba. This historic, monumental shift in public policy will have implications for not only politicians but brands and marketers, as well.
And what better way to mark a new beginning between Cuba and the United States than with Gisele and Vin Diesel? Hey, it’s better than using a taco bowl to connect with Hispanics, right?
Last week, Chanel landed in Havana, their first show in Latin America. From the moment their boat docked, loaded with aforementioned celebrities and models, Chanel put out all the stops for its “Cruise 2017” collection. Designer Karl Lagerfeld said he looked to Cuba for inspiration, but what came out of this was a Frankenstein’s monster of stereotypes.Cuba is best known for feeling like a time capsule, with colorful streets filled with cars from the 1950s, before the U.S. embargo halted any imports to the island nation.
But what some can enjoy from afar as quaint and colorful buries a very dark reality of Cuban history.
What Chanel did was less groundbreaking than they think. A fashion show with models wearing military fatigue and Che Guevara berets is pretty offensive to Cubans, Cuban-American refugees, and anyone with an understanding of 20th century history.
Outside of Cuba, we have the luxury of idealizing Che Guevara from a distance. We ironically sell t-shirts and posters of one of history’s staunch opponents of material capitalism. While Chanel meant no harm in their appropriation of the Castro regime, they turned their runway in the stress of Havana into a mockery of a very intense period of mass torture and execution of political prisoners. Parading models around wearing “sexy” military berets is grossly offensive to those who were forced to flee Cuba and brave the 90-miles of shark infested waters to safe haven in Florida.
But this was a party that the Cuban people were not invited to. The streets of Havana were lined with foreign photographers and journalists, but the actual Cuban citizenry were held back behind metal barricades and a small army of police officers.
And that’s about as close as most will ever come to a Chanel product. With the average Cuban earning just twenty dollars a month, it would take over 10 years to be able to afford the average Chanel bag.
This isn’t about one fashion show. When brands come to Cuba, they have to do it right, and they have to do it right by the people of Cuba. Otherwise, in an attempt to be kitsch and playful, brands risk reinforcing the legitimacy of the very autocracy that reformers have been fighting against for decades. When Cuba opens up to America, it’s not doing so for our abject entertainment. These are real people, who are part of real families that are facing severe challenges.
If we ever get to a time when Ford and GM are selling new cars in Cuba, we should not grieve over the loss of 1950s hotrods. To the outside world these vestiges of a bygone era may be appealing, but they also represent an economic system that deprives the Cuban people of an opportunity to make a decent living.
Cuban culture is rich, vibrant, and should be celebrated as the country opens its doors to consumerism and outside investment.
But like the mojitos that Vin Diesel was sipping, it’s best enjoyed responsibly.Read more at:pink formal dresses
IF YOU FIND YOURSELF IN FLORENCE THIS SUMMER, be sure to check out a new exhibition by Fondazione Ferragamo and Museo Salvatore Ferragamo. Running from May 18 until April 7, 2017, Across Art and Fashion will focus on the long-running relationship between these two creative fields.
THE EXHIBITION WILL DRAW ON the life of the ever-inspiring Salvatore Ferragamo, who was fascinated by 20th-century avant-gardism and collaborated with many of the biggest artists of the time. A Ferragamo pump, inspired by the work of American artist Kenneth Noland in the 1950s, is a case in point and will be one of the many pieces on show. But it will also extend beyond the designer’s own experiences and feature some of the most iconic examples of the art-fashion exchange: a dress by Elsa Schiaparelli designed in collaboration with Salvador Dalì in the 1930s, on loan from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and a dress from the 1960s by Yves Saint Laurent that was inspired by the paintings of Piet Mondrian, on loan from the Fondation Pierre Bergé - Yves Saint Laurent. Also on show will be Hussein Chalayan’s wooden corset from the Kyoto Costume Institute and a 2005 dress by Jun Takahashi (founder of Undercover) from The Museum at FIT in New York.
CURATED BY Maria Luisa Frisa, Enrica Morini, Stefania Ricci and Alberto Salvadori, the exhibition will feature clothing, accessories, fabrics, works of art, books, periodicals and photographs from the collections of both Italian and international museums, as well as an art installation created specifically for the occasion.
IT WILL SPAN THE AGES, from the work of the Pre-Raphaelites and the Futurists, to the school of Surrealism and so-called Radical fashion. The exhibition will also hone in on the ateliers where artists met and studied in the 1950s and 1960s, and chart the birth of celebrity culture. It will then explore the artistic experimentation of the 1990s and, ultimately, look at how the worlds of art and fashion are engaging in this day and age.
ONE OF THE MOST UNIQUE ELEMENTS OF THE EVENT is that it is a collaboration among some of the best-known cultural institutions in Florence and beyond, from the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale and Gallerie degli Uffizi, to Galleria d’arte moderna e Galleria del Costume di Palazzo Pitti, Museo Marino Marini, Museo Salvatore Ferragamo and Museo del Tessuto in Prato. As if we needed another excuse to visit the picturesque Tuscan town.Read more at:purple formal dresses
At 69, Hanspeter Ueltschi is four years younger than Mick Jagger and has the same wiry frame, elegant style and a full head of silver hair. Last week, women were lining up for him to autograph their sewing machines and owner's manuals not their T-shirts because Ueltschi is known as the "rock star of sewing."
His fans know him as the fourth-generation owner and CEO of sewing-machine maker Bernina International and each year he chooses a few American cities to visit. Chattanooga and Atlanta were his 2016 choices.
"Each year, I visit stores in America that have done unusually well," Ueltschi said.
He traveled all the way from the Switzerland headquarters of Bernina for a meet-and-greet in Bernina Sew N Quilt Studio, a small store tucked into a strip mall on Shallowford Road near a shooting range and a sandwich shop.
Sew N Quilt has been thriving so much, Ueltschi's first duty last week was to cut the ribbon officially opening its new addition. A crowd of about 150 women and a scattering of men swirled around the sewing demos on the Bernina machines. The attendees reflected the turnout at a recent embroidery conference in Chattanooga — mostly women, some in their 20s but the majority middle-aged or older.
However, Ueltschi said it's millennials who are helping the most to increase the amount of sewing business in Sew N Quilt and other sewing shops.
"The millennials are giving us a good increase in business; they grew up watching 'Project Runway,'" Ueltschi said, mentioning the reality TV show for aspiring fashion designers.
"Project Runway" fans know that gifted fashion artists often fail at contests because they can draw a beautiful design but model and host Heidi Klum and her panel of judges give scathing critiques of the sewing. Nina Garcia, the fashion editor for Elle and Marie Claire magazines and one of the judges on "Project Runway," repeatedly warned on the show that fashion lovers need to understand how to sew so they can learn how seams make a garment properly fit and enhance a human's body.
"The year we fell off the worldwide economic cliff, that was 2007," Ueltschi said. "My store owners told me that we needed to get a younger generation of customers if we wanted to continue to prosper. The recession inspired a do-it-yourself attitude among young people. They wanted to learn to sew so they could dress well on a budget. We created a lower priced sewing machine model for them."
Keep in mind that lower-priced model starts at $700, a bit high for an aspiring fashion designer still working as a barista in a coffeehouse. But Ueltschi touts it as worth the money, saying it enhances the creative process because it is so quiet — no clattering like Grandma's sewing machine — and is an easy blend of software tech and artistry.
Steve Coakley of Ready Set Sew on Ringgold Road in East Ridge said he plans to expand his store because business has been so good.
"We get a lot of people in the door through our classes," Coakley said.
The store has classes for beginners, he said, "and yes, men do come to those lessons. They seem to find it relaxing."
Forget images of Jane Austen dreaming of novels while she tediously stitches a pattern in her embroidery hoop. These days, much of home hobbyist sewing is computer-controlled. Users can program the colors of thread and types of stitches, even the pattern, and the machine will follow the lines of the design, switching threads, stitches and colors when needed.
Ueltschi maintains that what is created on those machines can still reflect an individual's vision as much as any hand-sewnpiece. In 1893, Ueltschi's ancestor Karl Friedrich Gegauf invented the hemstitch machine that could sew 100 stitches per minute, so Ueltschi has always viewed technology and sewing have been mingled for more than a century.
At an embroidery conference in the Chattanooga Convention Center two weeks ago, one machine was topped with 10 types of thread — plum, marigold, silver, sky blue, lavender, jade, glittery gold and other hues — and, in about 30 minutes, used them to embroider nightingales and peacocks flitting through a garden of cherry blossoms, roses and orchids. The Arabian Nights fantasy could easily have taken months to stitch by hand.
At the convention, North Carolina sewing artist and entrepreneur Anna Miller, 26, watched one machine guide a needle effortlessly over the outline of a rose that soon bloomed with pink and orange thread.
"I run a business where I embroider and appliqué everything from T-shirts to purses," Miller said, "and I sell a lot of items that I make on Etsy.
"To me, sewing on a machine like this," she said, nodding toward the computer screen attached to the sewing machine, "is still an art because I can design the pattern, pick the colors of thread — just like a painter would pick pigments and pick how short or long the brushstokes will be — by choosing the type of stitch."
Some men attended embroidery seminars at the convention, but the crowd was mostly women. How to get more guys in the doors of sewing stores is often debated by those in the business. Offering free beer with lessons in how to sew a Super Bowl-themed might be a draw but also could result in mangled fingers and broken needles.
Lauren Byrne is starting a murder-mystery quiltmaking class in June that she hopes guys might like. Different blocks of the quilt contain clues, so the quilters can debate the evidence as they sew. The identity of the killer is revealed in the last block, she says.
But admittedly, sewing's main draw will probably be the creative impulse that prompted retired art teacher Kay Donges to sew a beautiful quilt portrait of one of her male high school students from long ago. The portrait is now on display in the Bernina Sew N Quilt Studio.
Donges took photos of each of her students so they could use the picture to do a self-portrait; she kept the male student's photo because his eyes were so kind and perceptive, she said.
"He was living in a bad neighborhood in a bad family situation, but he was always so sweet and positive — and then he dropped out and I couldn't find out what happened to him," Donges said.
In the passing years she forgot his name yet found his old photo "so I felt driven to do a portrait of him," she said. "I've asked all the Facebook friends I have who were pupils or teachers at that school, but no one can remember his name."
She would like to show him the quilt, but no one even knows if he is alive or where he might be living.
"I still see that glow in his eyes, so here's what I named it, " she said, flipping the corner of the quilt up to reveal the word: