RAMON ESPINOSA/AP PHOTO
The Paris fashion house makes history debuting their newest collection in the streets of Havana, but we really came to see the rainbow of vintage rides.
On Tuesday, the luxury fashion brand led by their legendary Creative Director, Karl Lagerfeld, stormed the streets of Havana, Cuba to host their Resort 2017 Collection runway show. While this is Chanel's first show in Latin America, Lagerfeld has been known for his destination fashion shows. He's hosted shows in Versailles, Singapore, Dubai, and Seoul, just to name a few. With the recent lift of the travel ban on the country, Lagerfeld saw this moment in history to seize the opportunity of the "cultural richness and opening up of Cuba."
Hundreds of members of the fashion community were ushered to the island, just 90 miles from the tip of Key West, to attend the event. In true Chanel fashion, the beauty was all in the details.
On the day of the show, over 100 classic American cars in a rainbow of colors filled the parking lot of the Hotel Nacional in Havana, an assorted bag of skittles if viewed from the sky. The classic cars waited to shuttle guests over to the show's glossy runway on Paseo del Prado, the dividing street between Centro Habana and Old Havana.
Cuba is an incredible scene for any automotive enthusiast. As a result of a four-decade-long ban on foreign vehicle imports, American cars have been off-limit to Cuba since 1960. Therefore, the country acts as a time capsule, bringing you back to the 1950s. The guests of the show were driven away in an array of beautiful vintage vehicles from Ford, Chevrolet, Buick, Oldsmobile, Ply mouth, and Pontiac — each car frozen in time on the streets of Cuba.
Seeing so many beautiful cars in one place can send you into shock and awe, after all this is coming from the girl who cried when I walked into the Grand Palais in Paris last year. It was the concourse day of the Tour Auto Optic 2000, and I have never before seen such a collection of incredible machines all in one place.
With that being said, it's one thing to go to a museum or an annual vintage rally, but to see these cars living and breathing on the streets is an entirely different experience. In Cuba, these classic American cars are used as taxis and daily drivers — an everyday mode of transportation for the population, which is truly incredible to witness.
While the cars remain classic in their shapes, like the city itself, the vehicles are painted in bright blues, purples, greens, and yellows, not native to their original 1950's counterparts. While the paint colors on the cars have changed, most of the parts have too. Since the country's embargo on vehicles also meant an embargo on car parts, many of the classic cars seen on the streets in Cuba are a mix of internal organs. Most of the time the vehicles are made of a hodge podge of modified pieces, anything to keep them running.
The lift of Cuba's travel ban and Chanel's beautifully orchestrated runway show is just the tip of the iceberg for the nation. While the beauty of the colorful cars of the 1950s grab my eye and pull my heart in the most, it's a very obvious remind of forced embargo 40 years prior. With hopes that more and more people will get to experience the allure and romanticism of the country, I garuntee the automotive enthusiast will be swept away. After all, the candy-coated paint jobs await your arrival just outside the airport terminal.
For me, the journey is just as important as the destination itself. It takes about two hours to travel from Santa Monica, California to Indio, California where the Coachella Music & Arts Festival is held every year. The direct route is never an option. I opt for the longer roads, the roads that twist, wind, and take you to more places than just your ultimate destination. With the keys to the newest generation of the Smart ForTwo Cabrio, I roll through the desert and crush every corner of Highway 74 with the top down and the wind in my hair.
Shot and edited by Mara Balagtas
Music: "She's A Rebel" by Barrie Gladden, Kes Loy and Richard Kimmings for Audio Network
SMART AND MERCEDES-BENZ
Drop the top and let your hair down in the newest generation of Smart.
Summer is just around the corner and we’ve popped off the first round of festival season this year. Wrapping on weekend number two of the Coachella Music & Arts Festival in Indio, California, we’ve braved the heat of the desert and had our taste of the warm weather to come.
Now, back on the east coast, a lot of people are asking me, "How was Coachella?"
It was an incredible. It was my first time ever at the festival and it was an experience in itself. I danced the night away to a plethora of great performers — Sia, Calvin Harris, Disclosure, Major Lazer, Ice Cube and Snoop Dog, just to name a few. While I had the time of my life dancing the night away under the desert moon, I can’t help but reflect on my favorite part of the entire trip -- the road to Coachella.
Being the complete gear head and lover of horsepower that I am, I’m mainly always focused on the journey at hand, more than the actual destination (unless that destination is say, a race track). Needless to say, I set off for Indio from Santa Monica on Friday morning, equipped with an entirely new set of wheels that I’ve never gotten the privilege of handling before. Those wheels were the newest generation of the Smart ForTwo Cabrio. Not so fast. I’m sure you are thinking, “that tiny little thing, half the size of a Mini Cooper?” Yes, that’s the one, but it’s not the one you are so accustomed to seeing. The newest generation of Smart has seriously stepped it’s game up and the folks at Mercedes Benz (the parent company that produces Smart) really seem like they know what they are doing.
They’ve added four inches to the Smart making it an all around beefier car. With a 0.9-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine and your choice between a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission or a five-speed manual, you'll only be equipped with a maximum 89 horsepower. Don't know it until you've tried it -- I’ve driven some fast cars in my life and it’s utterly shocking how responsive the Smart is.
Most importantly, take note of the Smart’s tridion cell design. The car encompasses a honey comb shape (the strongest occurring shape in nature) which means it is acting as a completely protective cell around you in an event your car comes into impact with another object. Since Smart is produced by the fine German engineering of our friends at Mercedes Benz, they go through all the same crash test ratings as all of the MB vehicles we love.
This thing corners on a dime. With a 45 degree turning angle, it had no problem handling the twists and turns on the mountain passes of Highway 74 into Rancho Mirage. and if you’ve seen me driving, you know I’m not shy about hitting the gas through a corner.
Put aside the power, safety, and handling and we're tasked with the longest process of them all -- customization. With almost a never-ending number of trim combinations, Smart gives it's customers the opportunity to breathe personality into vehicles just as vibrant as their own.
While I’m really not one for blasting music in the car, the sound quality in the Smart is unlike any other, since it rides with an impeccable sound system supplied by JBL by Harman, the audio electronics brand that has been powering Coachella with it's commercial sound system. Slide the canvas roof back (in a mere 12 seconds), enable the full cabriolet feature and you're taken back by the fresh air experience. Combined, those two factors didn’t take a lot of convincing to have me blasting Ice Cube's, "It Was a Good Day" all the way to the festival.
While it’s not completely priced out in the United States quite yet, it’s starting in Europe at €15,655, which comes to about $17,570. For more information on how to pick up a Smart ForTwo Cabrio of your own, visit www.smartusa.com.
Everything you need, in a 10km radius of the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit.
The inaugural kick off to Formula 1 season is finally here and we're in the sunny and down under city of Melbourne, Australia. I'm so stoked to see the boys battle it out for the first Grand Prix win of 2016.
Hopefully you're in town for the race and if you are, I've curated some of the most interesting and cool places to stop over in between all the time you'll be spending at the Melbourne Circuit. Eat, sleep, drink, and roam your way through this incredible city, all whilst seeing some of the most speedy drivers in the world take off towards the finish line.
Take a peek below for the best of Melbourne, equipped with the exact distance from the race track.
YOUNGJUN KOO/NEW YORK MAG/THE CUT
These girls know what's up.
Fashion month has finally come to a close and while I had my fun running around to the shows in New York, these girls were busy taking on the streets in all four of the biggest fashion capitals in the world. Captured wearing one piece coveralls, athletic bombers, and driving gloves it seems that they got the note to ditch the model off duty look this season for something better.
Nodding to our favorite women in motorsports as well as some of the top drivers in Formula 1 history — these photos nod to the sporty, chic and effortlessly cool style that I've adopted as my own. Great minds think alike, right?
Take a peek below to see "How to Dress Like a Race Car Driver Off Duty" came to life on the streets of New York, London, Milan, and Paris.
Inspired by an autocross cone, just in time for race season.
The first day of March marks a sign of warmer things to come. While some of us are still getting beaten down with wind and chilly air, just saying the month out loud acts as a glimmering beacon of hope for spring.
Today, we also start an important countdown — only 19 more days until the first Formula 1 race of the season. The boys will be back in town at the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday, March 20 and we're anxiously waiting to see them battle it out again this year. In the spirit of Formula 1 quickly approaching and the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship well underway, we're ready to revisit the coolest automotive inspired pieces that popped up during fashion month last fall and will be here just in time for race season.
Taking a peak at the eccentric Moschino collection designed by Jeremy Scott, I can't help but feel a little nostalgic, mainly because of the fact most of the pieces look like they were inspired by an autocross course. Traffic cone theme dresses, handbags, and shoes, align with a heavy motorsports theme, is what made this particular show so fun.
Then again, what if you're not in the market for a toolbox shaped handbag (even though we want you to be) there are some more subtle ways to hit some of the cool automotive inspired accessories for spring. In the form of chic driving gloves and watches, updated driving moccasins and sporty racing stripes on handbags, there are plenty of pieces fitting for the pit lane.
Click around below to shop some of my favorite automotive inspired accessories.
"If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough."
A few weeks ago a colleague of mine, Matt Hranek, mentioned that he was doing a special project, one that involved one of the most iconic racing drivers of all time, Mario Andretti. Naturally, I begged, pleaded, and eventually invited myself (promising to be an extra set of hands for the project) to tag along to meet the man, himself.
It was an early Monday morning and I was anxiously waiting outside the Holland Tunnel entrance on Canal Street. Matt pulled up in his Land Rover with photographer, Stephen Lewis at 9:30AM --
I hopped in. It's about a couple hours drive to Mario's and by 11:30AM we were finally pulling up to the gates of his home. It's a lot for a person to take in, knowing that they are moments away from meeting one of their heroes. With "Villa Montona" written in script across the front gates, we proceeded up the long driveway.
In 1940, Mario was born in Montona, Italy, which is now Croatia. At that time, World War II had broken out and Montona had become part of Yugoslavia. Mario and his family lived in Yugoslavia for three years before making their way to a dispersement camp and later to a refugee camp in Lucca, Tuscany, where they resided for the next seven years.
I was absolutely gushing from the minute I stepped in the door. Race memorabilia flooded his office and the common room where he hosts guests. There were pictures from his racing days across the 1960s-1990s crawling up the walls, a Ford Cosworth engine coffee table, and keys to various cities across the United States.
Mario is an enchanting story teller and I was mesmerized by the tales of his upbringing. He spoke about when his family was living in Italy, he had no idea what the future would bring and at that point he didn't even have a thought about becoming a racing driver. However, in 1954, Mario and his twin brother Aldo, had the opportunity to go to the Monza Circuit to watch the Italian Grand Prix. Mario saw Alberto Ascari racing in a Ferrari and the dreams began to flourish in his head. He knew at that point he wanted to be a part of motor racing.
A year later, Mario and his family moved to the United States. Only a few short days after arriving in the states, Mario and Aldo discovered an oval race track close to their home. From that day, they decided to start racing with their first car, a 1948 Hudson Hornet Sportsman Stock Car that they built with their friends.
Mario quickly got the racing bug, surpassing his brother Aldo in the sportsman stock car class. He went on to his first Indy Car Championship in 1965 with a second straight national championship the year after. In 1967 he won the Daytona 500 stock car race and in 1969 the Indianapolis 500. By 1970 he claimed his second victory at the 12 Hours of Sebring and had his sights set on Formula 1, winning the World Championship in 1978. Mario become the first driver in motor racing history to have won titles in Formula 1 and Indy Car. He's raced on the same team as his son Michael, competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and has won Driver of the Year in three different decades. As a racing driver, Mario wasn't bound solely to open wheel racing, which is what made him so dynamic.
Mario is not only one of the most influential racing drivers in history, he's genuinely one of the kindest people I've ever met. He welcomed all of us into his home with open arms and is incredibly modest about his successes in racing.
At one point in the day I admitted to Mario how much I loved cars and motorsports and how my younger brother and I were huge fans. He smiled and turned to me "Oh that's wonderful. So you like race cars, Mara? Would you like to see one?" He led us to his garage, where a few motorbikes sat, his Corvette Z06 and his Indy Car from his last race ever, a Lola T9400 chassis and Ford XB engine, at Laguna Seca in 1994. (His daily driver, an orange Lamborghini Aventador was in the shop that day). You know that feeling when people say they were on Cloud 9? Well, I was drifting away into racing heaven on that cloud.
We chatted for a while in his garage. Mario telling stories about James Hunt and Lord Hesketh, his friend and team manager Paul Newman, and what it was like to win the Japanese Grand Prix. Remember one of the final scenes in 'Rush' when Nikki Lauda pulled into the pits to stop racing because of the torrential rain? It was 1976 and Mario won that race with Colin Chapman and Team Lotus, which sadly, we didn't get to see in the movie.
A few hours later and tons of stories to go home and tell my friends about, it was time to head back to the city. We graciously thanked Mario and his wonderful assistant Amy for taking the time to meet with us. It was hard to pry myself away from the stories and the memorabilia.
Mario sits on a plethora of knowledge and history about the heritage of racing and it didn't quite strike me until I left. To be in the home of Mario Andretti, the man who has so predominately paved the way for motorsports today — to listen and learn from him was truly an experience I will not soon forget.
Who wants to dress like a model off duty when you can dress like a race car driver off duty?
New York Fashion Week has officially come to a close this season. Between running to shows all week, scouting the newest ready-to-wear and accessories collections, half of the fun is choosing what you will wear.
While I might be the most atypical as a traditional fashion editor gets, I've decided to opt away from the ever-so-popular, model off duty look to pay homage to the style of race car drivers off duty, women and men alike. The photographs of James Hunt, Nikki Lauda, and Jochen Rindt waiting in the pits, clad with Carrera sunglasses, unbuttoned racing suits, t-shirt, and loafers lend to the most understated cool look.
While I was thumbing through, Gasoline and Magic at the photo studio of photographer, Stephen Lewis during a shoot, I stumbled across a photo of race car driver Liane Engemann. In the photo, she is leaning against her Ford Anglia race car, sporting her race suit with a bright yellow jacket draped over her shoulders. Her socks came up over the bottom of her race suit and her feet tucked into camel colored loafers (pictured above).
Engemann, hailing from Holland, started out in Formula Vee. She moved to the United Kingdom to race saloons, including Mini Coopers. She continued to race in Formula Vee and European Formula Three, driving a Brabham BT21. Engemann also competed in the Sebring 12 Hours, driving a Matra Djet, then later took on the Spa 24 Hours, this time in an Alfa-Romeo Benelux-run 1750 Berlina and won with partner, Bob Wallek.
During New York Fashion Week, I decided to embody Engemann's cool girl style with some of my other racing heroes. The race car driver off duty look is part classic, part atheleisure. After all, you have to be ready to go at a moment's notice.
Click around below to shop my race car driver off duty looks from New York Fashion Week.
There are some cars that are the stuff of legends. The Mini Cooper happens to be one of those cars. From carving the back roads in rally and winning championships, to becoming a movie icon. The Mini Cooper has made history on and off the screen.
Shot and Edited: Matt D'Alessio
Enzo Ferrari in Mini Cooper: Unknown
James Hunt at the 1976 Dutch Grand Prix: Hmdwgf Wikimedia Commons
Rowan Atkinson: Nathan Wong: flickr.com/photos/54877054@N00