A Tale of a Negrense Designer Taking Heights on Her International Dream
There are Rajo Laurel, Michael Cinco and Mak Tumang. Then there is Bea Cruz.
A preen woman with impeccable sense in fashion.
But behind the Cher Horowitz-like appearance (from Clueless) veils a world-class talent from a budding artist you may not know.
Hailing from Victorias City, this proudly Negrosanon fashion designer is no stranger to the list of Filipino design luminaries as she entered the international scene, unbarred of pure talent with force silently carving her way to the capitals of fashion.
It all started in the Big Apple that unlocked promising breaks for her later on.
“I personally love New York City and winning the best team for the Sotheby’s New York and Art Renewal Center exhibit was literally a dream that came to life,” she reveals on TCI in an exclusive written interview.
With a global spotlight now glinting, “it’s safe for me to say that I’m part of New York even just for a spec,” she adds.
This propelled the 22-year-old Fashion design and merchandising graduate of De La Salle - College of Saint Benilde School of Design and Arts for greater acquisition.
Bea was the youngest and only Filipino designer to be part of the recent Fashion Week San Diego 2020, an annual event that showcases emerging designers around the world in California, USA.
That was Bea’s first reaction when she found out that her previous works passed the design and quality standards of the prestige event. She began to swiftly feel the weight of Filipino pride more than ever.
"[I am] pressured knowing the fact that I'm bringing my motherland with me across the globe,” she says.
But the whirlwind of firsts is tempest.
The thrill of her international debut was challenged too early as the surging emotions of exuberance and delight appearing along with your masterpieces were short-lived for Bea, due to the travel restrictions caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
But her arduous spirit and brimming skillset hindered not even by the indivisible villain.
A feat to behold – Bea’s flair transcended over a historical crisis.
It wasn’t a one-man effort. She extended her gratitude for the relentless support of the people from the event, together with two Filipino artists, Kaitlyn Cabrera and Angel Tan.
“It was very unsettling, but the organizers served as a great support system for us designers. They were very positive and this made the many obstacles easier to deal with. Those who were there to assist me all throughout this project were blessings that made this possible,” she stated on Daily Tribune.
And her works didn’t merely fly the thousand-mile distance just to squeeze in with other designs and remain inconspicuous on the runway – It was woven to spark conversation.
A Filipina who triumphs.
It was a serving akin to Hussein Chalayan in the spotlight as it mirrored the ingenuity of her 10-piece collection with apparent influence from baro't saya, panuelo and barong – flaunting abroad the cultural beauty of Philippine wear concocted with avant style.
Vivirá - a Spanish word which means 'will live'.
It is the word that Bea named after her global collection inspired by the silhouettes of traditional Philippine clothing.
“The Vivirá collection is about cultural clothing living beyond generations as fashion further evolves," she avers. Her modern take is "living out traditional clothing to the present time, the youth culture".
And Vivirá indeed,
The critics were ensnared to the blend of culture and contemporary sultry twist. Among all eight creative designers that contended for the prestigious title, it was Bea who prevailed and secured the victory.
“Winning as the first-place top designer in FWSD 2020 felt like a dream,” she reminisces. “So surreal”.
And suddenly, all eyes were trained to an Ilongga.
An artist that struggles.
Still and all, the journey is no glitz and glam as what appears in the spotlights.
Creative blocks, breakdowns and non-stop revisions – Bea wrestled all of these and it took her “almost a year” to finalize and call it a collection.
“Working on the garments with time constraint was very challenging and mailing the garments was a challenge as well and not able to personally handle them during the travel was nerve-racking,” she states.
The fact that comes with her being the youngest and the only foreign designer from a developing country rendered Bea in a very usual but unlikeable feeling.
According to her, “It was intimidating to know that I’m the only international designer and the youngest joining among eight other creative designers who have been in the industry for years”.
But Bea is a woman ahead of her age.
“I took it as a motivation to work harder. Being a different race did scare me a bit at first but FWSD is very diverse and welcoming, that it felt more of a family,” she says.
A woman named Bea.
Just like any other kid, it was an ordinary process for Bea discovering her career in life.
“I love playing dress-up and growing up I would make something new out of my old clothes, but it wasn’t until 3rd- year high school that I realized this is the path I wanted to pursue. When I was introduced to the technical side – Pattern drafting, draping and sewing – that is when I fell in love with it even more,” she shares.
Her aunts, she adds, used to be dressmakers too, “so I guess it's familial”.
Bea is a canvas of her own that also seeks inspiration.
Her design aesthetic is still developing in search for a “common ground” but “I’m really into Art Deco and old Hollywood glamour. Grace Kelly is who I look up to. Although my design is a bit revealing, her sophistication is what inspires me the most,” she says.
And it all reflects, TCI furthers, as she describes her design as “pieces that have femininity and luxurious flair. Both glamour and simplicity”.
Generally, Fashion designing, she adds, is an art. “It is telling stories through clothes”.
Aside from needles and textiles, Bea is fond of reading and she shares an inspiring quote from Paulo Coelho, her favorite author: “ever since your goal found out that you’re traveling towards it, it has been running to meet you”.
She spares TCI a message for aspiring artists and people who're in pursuit of their dreams.
“It’s hard to pursue one’s dreams and aspirations because I, myself, had a rough time and still is. There will be pauses and delays along the way but it’s what we believe in that becomes more”.
She adds, “don’t worry too much when sometimes it feels impossible, because it’s not supposed to be right away anyway. Hold on to your silver-lining. Trust your time. It will come”.
You can think that there is so much in store now for this young designer, but “the future is very uncertain and hard to tell” if you’d ask her. She replies, “but if something comes up, big or small, I’ll be up for it”.
“I definitely have plans I can’t tell just yet,” she says.