Cuba bows out of the Olympic Games in Rio clad in Christian Louboutin uniforms

Posted: 24-Aug-16 08:04

Making a fashion statement bigger than any other participating nation at this year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the Cuban sports team made a gallant exit dressed from head to toe in Christian Louboutin-designed uniform. The haute couture designer, most famous for his line of invariably red-soled shoes, took it upon himself to create a special uniform for Cuba's flag-carrying sportsmen and sportswoman and the result has drawn as much admiration as surprise.

Cuba bows out of the Olympic Games in Rio clad in Christian Louboutin uniforms

In a move to draw attention to the talent and effort of the Cuban Olympic team, French designer Christian Louboutin certainly made sure the world’s eyes were on Cuba during last Sunday’s closing ceremony in Rio de Janeiro. He did so for free and for the love he bears Cuba, a country he has holidayed in numerous times.

What exactly did he do to merit this sort of selfless acclaim? Well, Mr. Louboutin made it his mission to style and design the Cuban sports team’s closing gala uniforms and he was so invested in the project that all throughout the designing process he consulted with the Cuban athletes themselves to ensure they would wear something they felt comfortable with and represented them well.

The result was elegant, sleek and patriotic, with a demure touch. In short, most fashion experts eyeing the Olympics closing ceremony, concluded that Louboutin’s efforts were indeed fruitful and the designs ultimately stylish and original. The devil was in the detail, with the shoes being the most prominent, attention-grabbing feature. No surprise there, as footwear is Louboutin’s foremost specialty, and the shoes that went with the uniforms were imaginatively designed with motifs from the Cuban flag tastefully showcased.

And Christian Louboutin went as far as to travel down to Rio for the closing gala, to be present among his Cuban sportsmen and sportswomen-turned-models. He was clad in the same Cuban uniform he designed and happily posed with the Cuban team.

To dress the Cuban Olympic team, Mr Louboutin called on the help of close French friend and former professional handball athlete, Henri Tai, owner of online sportswear store SportyHenri.com. Together they worked to assemble Cuba’s most fashionable ever Olympic garments. Cuba certainly made history once again, turning a new leaf on its fashion books, not long after Chanel, yet another haute couture French fashion brand, descended on Havana to stage a public catwalk show.

But Christian Louboutin went further, much further. Not only was the project completely non-profit and time-consuming, as he was present at every stage of the creative process and throughout the fitting stages, he also consulted every move with athletes themselves to ensure he was going in the right direction. As a video published on Fashionista.com shows, Mr Louboutin took every care to truly represent Cuba. During the video we can hear him say:

“We wanted to dress the Cuban delegation with a genuinely Cuban idea.”

He goes on to elaborate on what this meant on the different design ideas and brainstorming stages:

“Thinking about what’s very Cuban, many things occurred to us. The strength of colours. A very classical clothing fashion from the 50s, and a very strong iconographic aspect, that’s very present here. The true pop side of Cuba”

But Christian Louboutin wasn’t following in the steps of any other fashion names that preceded him, like Chanel parading down Havana last May, nor was he attempting to echo others with the reopening of Cuba to the U.S. No, Mr. Louboutin’s personal affair with Cuba goes way back, it stems from 15 years of visiting the country, from the special place Cuba has in his heart and ultimately from an idea that sparked up two years ago, long before the U.S.-Cuba thawing process began.

As his French counterpart explains on the video:

“It began right here in Cuba, two years ago, during a photoshoot for Sporty Henri. With Christian, a crazy idea came to our minds…”

Why did he do it? Why did a fashion name as reputed as Christian Louboutin devote his precious time to designing smart-casual sportswear? For the love of it, actually, or rather, for the love of Cuba, as he himself explains.

Proof of this is the fact that none of his Olympic items were sold, neither online or at retail stores. Unlike Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld, Mr. Louboutin did not venture into this Cuban enterprise as a money-making marketing strategy. He did it simply because he was enthusiastic about Cuba, as are we.

As his friend, Henri Tai puts it:

“Here we are now, with these splendid athletes at a crucial point in their lives and careers. It’s a dream come true.”

As a result, Cuba has enjoyed unique worldwide attention as its athletes paraded down Rio’s ceremonial stadium. Never before had the island been as highly regarded on the Olympics fashion ranks as last Sunday, and we cheer to that. May the Cuban dream live long and materialise into prosperity for this small, charismatic country that we so fondly love.


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