Menswear designer Nick Graham visited Havana recently in search of inspiration for his upcoming spring/summer 2017 presentation at New York Fashion Week: Men’s, set to debut today. Amidst rapid national evolution, Graham is recreating Cuba’s most famous nightclub – Tropicana – for his presentation, and bringing the vibe of its dancers and musicians to Manhattan.
Here, Graham takes us on his trip to Havana with commentary of what he saw and what inspired him.
“Havana is one of the most fascinating places I’ve ever been. It’s like a decaying European city that has its own elegance. To think that it’s only 40 minutes from Miami is remarkable.”
“The cars are amazing. Cars are a sign of status in Cuba in a society that doesn’t accept status symbols. The architecture is both beautiful and falling apart. One of the more telling aspects of the Russian involvement in Cuba is the architecture. It’s called “brutalist” architecture for a reason. Very square and very imposing. Some of the best restaurants in Havana are not really restaurants. They’re allowed to exist in people’s homes and in places you’d never expect.”
“Music is everywhere. Dancing in the afternoons – the mornings and evenings. It’s so inspiring. The people there are very happy. The commercialism that we know in America doesn’t exist at all.”
“The Tropicana was probably one of my favorite highlights of the trip. It opened in 1939 and has been going strong ever since. It’s amazing to think that the government of Cuba owns a nightclub. The costumes were breath taking and was one of the places where the gangsters in the 50’s would always go.”
“I know that everyone is saying that they have to get to Cuba soon before it changes. It will change eventually but it will be slower than we think. The major American airlines’ are flying there in September but not many of them will be allowed to fly to Havana. But regardless anybody should go. One of my favorite places in the world.”