A Snapshot of Fashion in Cuba

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We’re all inundated by media’s definition of ‘attractive’- from countless magazines portraying a linear trend to Hollywood blockbusters skewing timeless outfit rules by going back and forth on time eras, from grey suits with billowy white shirts on the nostalgic show “Mad Men” to the rebellious punk rock fashion show of Bonny and Clyde; Media partakes a massive role in defining fashion.

But what happens when we take that away from us, when the definition of attractiveness is not based on a linear perspective but on instinct itself; Enter Cuba, an island in the Caribbean without access to unregulated media. While fashion in Havana, the capital of Cuba, would be an unfair match to the likes of fashion in Paris or London. A magical thing happens when people rely on instinct and gut to define fashion and attractiveness. Led by varying definitions of fashion, Cubans tend to be highly confident and comfortable in their skin.

One of the dances in Cuba, Rumba, relies on confidence and boldness to create a spark of attraction- uninterrupted by media which capitalizes on the human need for change, the people in Cuba are unhinged in what they find attractive and fashionable. It’s all a gut feeling.

This land inspired many artists and designers. The most famous fashion designers with Cuban origins are:

1. Narciso Rodriguez

This CFDA-award-winning designer comes from a family of Cuban immigrants. Narciso Rodrigues worked with brands like Anne Klein, Donna Karan and Banana Republic. He is famous for modern designs and gorgeous wedding fashion. Narciso Rodrigues is well-known among celebrities, from Sarah Jessica Parker to Michelle Obama, his career took off after he designed the wedding dress of Dina Ruiz for her wedding with Clint Eastwood.

2. Lazaro Hernandez

The co-founder of Proenza Shouler, another award winner brand from the CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund, has Cuban origins. Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez. met while studying at Parsons School of Design, collaborating on their senior thesis, which would eventually become their first collection as Proenza Schouler.

3. Isabel Toledo

The former creative director of Anne Klein, Isabel Toledo was born in Cuba and attended the Fashion Institute of Technology and Parsons School of Design (NY). Along with her husband, Ruben Toledo, Isabel was the recipient of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for their work in fashion and other awards.