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Girl in blue jacket with man in black suit, Havana

Fast & Furious with Chanel – celebrity culture comes to Havana

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When Barack Obama and the Rolling Stones came to Havana in the same week (in March, 2016), with mega containers, private jets and caravans of entourage, we exclaimed: ‘’Now, what could cap that? Well, last week another surreal duo maybe did – Fast & Furious with Chanel.

The filming of the eighth F & F blockbuster (with Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez) wrapped up after weeks of major disruption and blocked-off Havana streets. Some residents were happy enough; paid as local production crew or for using their homes, or because it gave them a good excuse to be late for work.  Others felt more Slow and Furious as they struggled to cross the city or do business in their own neighbourhoods. It was rumoured that Cuba was paid 16 million dollars for the luxury of virtually closing down key areas of the capital city.

Then Chanel catwalked in with a private show

Meantime Karl Lagerfeld and his French fashion house Chanel Cruise 2017 show catwalked into the capital, adding further pizzazz to the stir-crazy celebrity buzz already gripping the city. Unlike the recent free, open concerts from Major Lazer and the Rolling Stones, this show was a strictly private event.

The very lack of celebrity culture here (Cubans frequently see famous artists/sportspeople on the street and do no more than walk by or smile affectionately) makes it interesting that it’s foreign ‘’stars’’ that are now provoking such frenzy. From Beyonce, Jay Z, Obama and the Stones to Lagerfeld and Vin Diesel, Havana appears to be the latest location/backdrop for the worlds rich and famous. And having not experienced anything remotely of the sort for almost 60 years – and with the gap between rich and poor widening further – many Cubans are left open-mouthed, and with much to think about.


Sue Herrod

About the Author
Sue Herrod, our woman in Havana.