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Fashionistas Invade Cuba for Chanel's Latest Collection

A grand Havana colonial avenue was transformed into a private runway for French fashion house Chanel and it's 2016/2017 "Cruise" collection.

French fashion house Chanel brought glamour back to Communist-ruled Cuba on Tuesday in a runway show on one of Havana's main boulevards, featuring glittering gowns, celebrity sightings, tulle cocktail dresses and models in Panama hats smoking cigars.

Above: People observe the Chanel fashion show in Havana, Cuba, May 3, 2016.

ALEJANDRO ERNESTO / EPA

This is Chanel's first fashion show in Latin America by German designer Karl Lagerfeld as part of his latest inter-seasonal Cruise collection for the fashion house.

Above: Brazilian top model Gisele Bundchen poses before the fashion show at the Paseo del Prado street in Havana on May 3. Sequined black berets also recalled the non-glitzy one sported by late revolutionary hero Ernesto "Che" Guevara, a national hero in Cuba.

ALEXANDRE MENEGHINI / Reuters

Chanel is the first major fashion house to hold a runway show in Cuba, highlighting both warming relations with the West and new inequalities on the island. Virtually all residents of the capital were swept behind yellow barricades and unbroken lines of uniformed and plainclothes police at least a block away.

Above: People wait to catch a glimpse of models and celebrities who are in town to attend the fashion show.

Reuters

Models present creations by German designer Karl Lagerfeld, Cuban motifs in the new Cruise line were exemplified in a fabric depicting turquoise and pink vintage cars used for leisurewear such as jackets, a bathrobe and skirts.

ALEXANDRE MENEGHINI / Reuters

A model shows the designs of Karl Lagerfeld. Lagerfeld, who has been at Chanel's creative helm since 1983, has said his latest inter-seasonal Cruise collection was inspired by the "cultural richness and opening up of Cuba."

ALEXANDRE MENEGHINI / Reuters

With the heart of the Cuban capital effectively privatized by an international corporation under the watchful eye of the Cuban state, the premiere of Chanel 2016/2017 "cruise" line offered a startling sight in a country officially dedicated to social equality and the rejection of material wealth.

Above: Actor Vin Diesel gestures to the crowd watching the presentation Chanel's fashion show, in Havana on May 3.

Ramon Espinosa / AP

Drivers of vintage American cars receive their final instructions on how to bring in the fashion models that will take part in the Chanel fashion show, at the parking lot of the Hotel Nacional.

Ramon Espinosa / AP

Celebrities, including Tilda Swinton and supermodel Gisele Bundchen, jetted into the Caribbean island for the show and arrived at the venue in vintage convertibles.

Above: Swinton takes a picture with a guest prior to the fashion show.

ALEXANDRE MENEGHINI / Reuters
A model smokes a cigar as he walks down the runway in Havana on May 3. By showcasing its Cruise collection in Cuba, Chanel has said it was harking back to the roots of the line, originally designed for wealthy Americans holidaying on yachts and cruises in the Caribbean to escape the winter gray. ALEXANDRE MENEGHINI / Reuters

During a 25-minute show set to live Cuban music, models strutted down a 525-foot section of the leafy Paseo del Prado, lined with ornate street lamps and bronze lions.

Above: Models present the pieces of Chanel's cruise collection in Havana on May 3.

ALEJANDRO ERNESTO / EPA

Some Cubans criticized Chanel, the second-biggest luxury brand behind LVMH's Louis Vuitton, whose goods can cost tens and thousands of dollars, for choosing to showcase its new line in a country starved of material opulence whose brand isn't even sold in.

Ramon Espinosa / AP

Models dance the 'conga' in Havana on May 3.

ALEJANDRO ERNESTO / EPA

Karl Lagerfeld, head designer and creative director of fashion house Chanel, poses with his godson, Hudson Kroenig, after the fashion show of his 2016/2017 "cruise" line.

ALEXANDRE MENEGHINI / Reuters