The best thing about doing my job is combining travel and fashion- two of my all time favorite passions folded into one synapse tingling experience : exciting locations, amazing clothes,new people to create with and at the end of it- beautiful pictures to take home. This is what my dreams are made from...but sometimes it can be nail biting suspense and flirting with chance, like shooting this season of Bec and Bridge Autumn '16 in Cuba.
After arriving into Havana, my bags were checked by beautiful yet stern border patrol girls ( all curiously wearing patterned fishnet tights, go figure ). They pulled me aside and dragged out some of my B&B clothes, spoke quietly in Spanish, then looked at me with narrowed eyes and asked all sorts of questions (as if they were pretty fashion police stopping a haul of contraband clothes) whilst I perspired imagining what a Castro jail looked like. Thankfully, they were satisfied with my answers, compliments on their cool 80s stockings and reassurances that I too grew up in a Communist country; after all I am an ex Yugo girl soooo...they let me go. Buoyed by this I made my way for the city and the closest mojito to calm my nerves.
My next problem came the next day; when I realized my phone didn't work at all and internet isn't really a thing yet in Cuba. I had made sporadic contact with a Cuban photographer named Viktor Rising in the weeks prior; I liked his style and punchy, contrasty photos so among faulty emails we made a loose plan but now, I had no way of contacting him.
It took me half a day to find out there were some hotels that have internet in front of them and vouchers I can buy somewhere else to get on so I sent an S.O.S to him and waited. It was the day before I left when I heard back and we made a hasty plan. I stayed up late sourcing a steamer for the clothes from a few different hotels, then got up early to get ready, straightening my hair and applying perfect make up...until I walked out into 42C, 90% humidity Havana sun and my hair bounced back into it's curls immediately while make up melted off faster than I could re-apply it. Ay!
Fortunately, Viktor was a cool and funny guy and the shoot itself was a dream ; we wondered the eclectic streets, men whistled and women asked where my dresses were from ( such is the power of Bec and Bridge's well honed sexy dresses ). I danced the salsa and ran over the squares but most importantly, our team had a ball and the dresses looked hawt juxtaposed against the colours of this beautiful city. I hope you like! x
Talk about a trifecta: wrap around, scooped out and leg baring in the most beautiful shade of cornflower blue ( B&B dress, Versace clutch, Valentino sandals )
This silk number is endlessly versatile- wear it loose in summer or over leather leggings in winter (B&B dress, Aquazurra sandals )
Photographed by Viktor Rising
2016 is here! I've taken a few weeks off over the summer holidays and moved into a new apartment; between unpacking boxes, hanging out with my daughter over school holidays and catching up with all my visiting overseas friends, I forgot to share my personal pictures of Cuba with you all! But here they are...and along with it, a diary entry I wrote in Havana. Hope you enjoy my peek into this amazing city...
My worn out desk at the Palacio O'Farrill hotel is decorated by an old landline phone and a quickly warming pina colada while I listen to the tropical rain cooling Old Havana. This is my 4th hotel in 4 days ; it was busy when I tried to book almost a month ago, even the nice private accomodation at the so called casas particulares was gone so all I could get was single nights at various hotels. It seems the whole world fervently wants to come see Cuba before the country loses it's decrepit nostalgic beauty when (if?) the sanctions are lifted.
On my first day at Hotel Florida there were no window panes on my room's balcony doors , the heaving noise of the city's busy main street below welcoming me to this seaside town and when the night fell ,humid and heavy with a blanket of heat, the sound of whistling men and laughing women reverberating through the dusty neighbourhood. Down in the lobby bar, mojitos flow by the double while couples dance the salsa; Latino men and women oozing unbridled hips, wet skin and well practiced sensuality.
Havana is both beautiful and haggard, fresh and utterly filthy, excitingly full of opportunity and desperately stuck in the past. On one corner there are newly paved streets and colourful walls but turn left and it's crumbling balconies and the stench of dead chickens rotting on the road while huge vultures circle the skies waiting to claim these Santeria offerings to the Orisha.
If Havana were a person, it would be both the one legged old man I photographed on the merikon where the old city walls meet the sea, and a happy little girl on her way to school with a faux LV bag and stars in her eyes. It's those that wearily improvise and upkeep their possessions with a dogged resignation under a lead backpack of the embargo but also those who re-invent rules, trying to establish a hipster utopia with makeshift bars and great organic food.
This town presents insane mid century architecture that will take your breath away and cold soviet era buildings greying and peeling in the island sun. It breathes in fragrant peanuts in white paper cones, 1 peso rickshaw rides , huge papayas sold by handsome mixed race hunks , billboards of revolutionary slogans instead of advertising, hotels whose star ratings are not an indictment of quality but a representation of a time long gone and people that will either try to fleece you or charm your socks off or both.
To be honest , I wouldn't have it any other way - I had such a fun time here exploring the streets, meeting people, drinking white rum in all it's incarnations, riding in an old pink car while the sun pounded bleached out neighborhoods and dancing the hot nights away. Don't go a changing Cuba Linda!
Hotel Terrigal (newly renovated)
Hotel Serratoga (what's good for Bey & Jay Z...)
Hotel National (iconic)
Chanchullero (Brazil between Christo and Bernaza )
Sia Kara Cafe
Rooftop Hemingway hotel
La Terraza for great bbq
walk the streets and practice spanish
go to a salsa show and dance the night away
take the Havana tour in an old car
visit the close by beaches for a day trip
lounge by the pool at hotel Nacional
drink a lot of mojito
Favorite city tour guide:
Matias Da Via
With thanks to new friends and wide horizons <3