Filipina designer takes global spotlight
Bea Cruz, budding artist from Victorias City in Negros Occidental, recently carved out a name for herself in the international fashion field through a series of fortunate events that catapulted her to a niche global spotlight.
The long, arduous journey across the Pacific began with a couriered three-piece-set comprised of a luxe chiffon dress with handcrafted accessories made with beads, chains, and metal scraps that are reminiscent of the classic chainmail body and neck armor.
This culminated in a piece that focused on Philippine craftsmanship and radiated the strength and courage of female warriors of the early centuries, inspired by American contemporary painter David Bowers’ oil painting Lisa The Shield Maiden (2019) and modeled by her muse, the Mexican Andrea Rivera.
The group clinched the sought-after The Art & Beauty Behind Fashion Best Team Award, which unlocked new promising breaks.
Cruz then launched her never-before-seen, 10-piece collection in the newly concluded fall runway of Fashion Week San Diego in California, USA.
All her efforts paid off when she bagged the prestigious title of Top Designer.
Coined as Vivirá, which means will live in Spanish, her assemblage brought forth a new dimension to the silhouettes of traditional Philippine attire such as the baro’t saya, panuelo and an upcycled barong.
This exhibited a seamless minimal and modern blend through an elegant incorporation of 40s and 50s iconic circle skirts and cinched waists with the contemporary sultry style of today’s fashion.
“Vivirá is all fashion evolution and how cultural garments will live beyond generations. This is my modern take on it — living out Philippine traditional clothing to the present time,” said the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde Fashion Design and Merchandising Program alumna.
“Being the youngest among veteran designers wasn’t easy for me. I took it as a motivation to produce a collection that challenged me not only as a designer, but as an individual as well,” she said. “I was granted such a huge opportunity and I wanted to use it to highlight the beauty of our own textile in the global stage. Since they consider me an international designer, I wanted to share where I came from and our culture.”
Due to present travel restrictions brought about by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Cruz had to make a tough decision: she skipped her personal appearance in her international debut. Instead, she opted to mail these garments from her studio to Manila, then all the way to San Diego for the show.
“It was very unsettling but the organizers behind Fashion Week San Diego served as a great support system for us designers. They were very positive and this made the many obstacles easier to deal with,” she said.
Through this phase, she was aided by two Filipino artists, Los Angeles-based earring designer Kaitlyn Cabrera and San Diego-based wardrobe coordinator Angel Tan.
“Those who were there to assist me all throughout this project were blessings that made this possible. Despite all that has been happening, it’s nice to know that there’s something I can look forward and hold on to. As an added gift, I have likewise met such amazing individuals across the globe,” she added.
“I know that there are hundred-folds I have yet to learn. Though there were some hiccups, this experience definitely made me realize I’m capable of achieving things I never imagined doing this at a very young age. Most specially being in the middle of yet the toughest year.”