It’s a warm autumnal day in Paris when I arrive at Gare du Nord to pick up Carl. Coming from a long haul flight from Manila, he’s in town to present his Spring/Summer 2018 collection during Paris Fashion Week. I initially related to him as a silent fan of his work, then as a stylist, pulling out samples for editorial shoots I did for L’Officiel Manila. Today, I work for him, as an assistant in his showroom for the week to come.
During this time, I was not only able to perceive his pieces on a personal level (wearing them, talking about them to buyers, partying in them) but also got to be up close with the designer himself. One journalist asked him for a word to describe his collection, and after a minute of reflection, he said, “Honest.” I couldn’t agree more. Carl Jan Cruz as a brand has always been guided by childhood memories of him growing up between Manila and London and this link still manifests in his current collection. We see an electric blue organdy crepe shirt reminiscent of the fabric of his mom’s office uniform, a roomy denim jacket that envelopes like a protective cocoon, and a patchwork of a dress made of Filipino rags rendered in classic Carl Jan Cruz fabrics and elevated with faux pearl.
But interviews are not exactly his point fort. Later, he tells me he always panics in front of a camera or a tape recorder. It’s amusing to see someone who is so articulate in visual language, someone who is able to tell a story through his creations in an original and emotional way, struggle to find words to describe his universe. But maybe that’s not such a bad thing. “I’d rather have a bag full of clothes than a bag full of words because that’s what I do.” Us too, CJ, us too.