This Gorgeous Book Showcases Cuba’s Most Beautiful Women

If you don’t already want to visit the island, ‘She is Cuba’ will inspire you.


Husband-and-wife  photography duo BJ Formento and Richeille Formento, of Formento & Formento, first met on a trip to Cuba in 2005, vowing to return again to capture the arresting mix of decay and desire that they found emblematic of the country. 

In 2014, they finally got their chance to record the last days of a rapidly changing post-Fidel Cuba. Their project, She is Cuba, chronicles the country’s aesthetic allure and rich cultural pathos through the faces of some of the island’s most beautiful women. The photographers shared the stories behind their favorite images with Maxim. 

“We shot model Carla Alavarez Alba in the now abandoned Cine Campoamor, a theater founded in 1921 that fell into disuse in the ’60s. As soon as our car left, five police vehicles arrived to arrest our 25-person crew, including Carla. Our producer came over after and told us not to leave our apartment—I downloaded all the files we had and hid them before returning to America.”
“Finida is an actress in Havana, and one of the few women we worked with who was very comfortable posing for nudes. We spent a wonderful day together shooting in the streets and asking friends if we could shoot in their homes.”
“Marian is a graduate of the Cuban National Ballet School—the largest ballet school in the world. We were shooting on a street in Old Havana and noticed this red car, so we approached the owner and asked if we could shoot. He said “Five dollars, please.” When we set up the lights, all these goats popped up in the backseat! I asked if we could shoot inside the car and he responded, “That will be another five dollars.”