Havana Fashion Week, foregoing luxury for everyday simplicity

The third Havana Fashion Week launched Wednesday night -- with the first shows showcasing modest simplicity far from the extravagant designs seen in Paris, Milan or New York.

Until Sunday, 46 shows will hit the catwalk -- featuring clothes, jewellery and leather goods from 71 independent designers, under the patronage of UNESCO and the Cuban Association of Artisan Artists.

"We are a country under (American) embargo, we are not able to import fabric and other things so we make our collections with what we can find," explained Jesus Carmona, a 50-year-old designer and member of the organizing committee.

Around 400 guests will gather each night in a warehouse-turned-brasserie bordering Havana's bay -- known for hosting a meeting between then-president Barack Obama and local entrepreneurs in March 2016.

The pieces on show offer neither the glamour nor the avant-garde nature of Chanel's "Croisiere" collection, presented in Havana in May 2016 -- instead reflecting the everyday.

The designers were asked to work around the theme of "crafts and identity," incorporating the colors, vibrancy and sensuality of African ancestors as well as the science of Spanish knitting.

"It's ready to wear, affordable clothes, which you can wear everyday, in the evening, for cocktails, or even for work," Carmona said. "It's a concentrate of Cuban traditions."

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