Cuba Influences Fashion Trends
By Marcie Cooperman on Sep, 13 2015
We cannot get away from the constant references to Cuba these days. We see images of ancient cars rolling through streets lined with colorful colonial buildings, each a different hue, all of this on a Caribbean island with the sparkling blue sea, white sand beaches and blue skies. Even if we have not yet had the opportunity to visit, we can imagine the exotic visuals… and the seeds of imagination take hold.
The reality is indeed colorful, even with the indigenous poverty and stagnation enforced through decades of blockade and embargo. Buildings and cars reflect a wild abandon of hues, but all are united by a similarity of high intensity and middle to high value.
Havana: Vedado Building
Classic cars in Cuba
And now, it seems that the imagery is finally having its way with design. This fall, both men’s and women’s clothing are cheery, if not downright explosive. The invisible barrier that used to keep men in gray, black and white, with only limited low intensity hues like red or blue allowed has been breached. (Some people actually say that red is not a chromatic hue!)
Color placement runs the gamut from one colored piece at a time to everything at once. Ann Demeulemeester for men highlights one piece of luscious color against gray or black. Even classic designers like Ralph Lauren are sure to include a colorful offering this season along with the staid; or a surprise flash of color in the lining of a coat, and orange and blue used together, like Dior Homme.
Ralph Lauren SS2016
Dior Homme FW2016
Acne Studios bravely places one solid hue on the top against another on the bottom. Berluti works with surprising hue contrasts in several pieces for an artistic effect, like green, orange, cyan over denim against yellow shoes. Then Berluti goes beyond solids with a patterned shirt against solid blue pants and violet jacket, atop violet shoes.
Acne Studios SS2016
Casely-Hayford plays with patterns, working with surprising color combinations as well as the classic orange/blue complementary contrast, in patterns that demand more confidence of the wearer.
Moschino and Missoni are another story entirely, where color contrast for the sake of contrast seems to be the point. Yellow, orange, pink, blue, violet, and pink all are arrayed in one outfit for the man who is very sure of himself.
Missoni translates its customary knit hue-balance into a delicate plaid woven shirt and jacket of high and low intensities made slightly outrageous by their contrast against a whispery blue plaid scarf, and the relief of cream bottoms.
Cuban designers and those with Cuban heritage have always had an intimate understanding of the more intense colors, like Carolina Herrera, Alejandro Ingelmo, Christian Cota, and Esteban Cortazar. Could it be that the colors one sees throughout one’s life etch themselves into the mind and set the stage for the right way to be?
In spring 2014, Carolina Herrera worked with the rising floral trend, with a bit of bright color over white, softened by low intensity beige. Alejandro Ingelmo went hot this year, with his sexy heels. For FW2015, Esteban Cortazar likes the splash of a bright solid color against gray pants, while Christian Cota works with several warm adjacent hues mixed together over black legs. And finally, Narciso Rodriguez expertly coordinates his hues in unexpected contrasts, playing close attention to the successful blue/orange complements.
Carolina Herrera SS2014
Esteban Cortazar FW2015
Christian Cota F2015
Be prepared to experience the influence of Cuba in many areas of your life for a long time, as opportunities open up and its presence expands in the minds of more designers. Does that means color is here to stay? A color maven can only hope so.