In a show of Pinoy excellence, singer Darren Criss wears a stunning Francis Libiran bespoke suit for his upcoming holiday album.
The holiday season is among us! While we’re getting into the Christmas cheer, there’s no better way to celebrate it than listening to “A Very Darren Crissmas”—a soundtrack from world-renowned actor, singer, musician, and a very good friend of mine… Darren Criss!
Darren is set to release his album, “A Very Darren Crissmas,” on October 8 and I’m excited because, in that album, he’s wearing one of my creations! It’s truly an honor to see him sport a bespoke suit that I designed for him for this project.
A Very Darren Crissmas Indeed
The cover features him donning a wine and gray silk brocade suit. What’s more, the silk provides a nice sheen that registers well on photographs. The textures and patterns are very rich, and the color combination is one-of-a-kind. We even incorporated the wine velvet lapel with the brocade to create a vibrant contrast!
The suit’s texture made a big difference because we didn’t use conventional patterns. Plus, we made sure that his style was distinctive. That way, his audience can marvel at the ensemble’s magnificence, which mirrors his personality.
I was inspired to do a rich and bold color for Darren. Not a traditional glam or dark color though, because I see him as a sharp and sartorial lad. He has a personality where he daringly experiments with extraordinary colors and styles. And I wanted to capture all that in his bespoke suit.
Meeting Darren for the First Time
Darren and I met in Hollywood in 2019, during the 76th Golden Globe Awards, which was held at The Beverly Hilton. We were introduced to each other by Filipino journalists and very good friends of mine: Ruben and Janet Nepales. Both were esteemed members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and producers of the Golden Globes.
Darren admired the suit that I was wearing at the event—a silk black and gold brocade suit. I then told him that I was a Filipino designer and that it would be a pleasure to dress him up in the future. I also added that I applaud his work as an artist, and he reciprocated the compliment. It was the start of a budding friendship.
He then reached out to us, through his talented stylist Ashley Weston, to design a Filipino barong for his wedding when he married Mia Swier. A few months later, Darren, his wife Mia plus his management team made up of Ricky, Ashley, and Michael paid a visit to Manila in April 2019, where I played host to them. We had private cocktails and dinner parties for them like we were friends for a long time. They were, and still are, very, very down-to-earth.
Bespoke Pieces I Designed for Darren
Back then, Darren’s team tapped us to make a Barong Tagalog for his wedding on February 16, 2019. Hollywood stylist, Ashley Weston, contacted my business partner Arsi Baltazar and asked if we could create something for him. It was an opportunity that I did not want to pass up, so we immediately went to work.
We told Darren that we were redefining the barong Tagalog by making the embroidery non-traditional—something that you do not see in local shops. While made with customary Filipino materials, what made it stand out is the art deco design details—my signature mark on every piece I create. For this, I initially sketched ten different designs and eventually narrowed them down to two.
He celebrated his marriage to Mia Swier by wearing a truly handcrafted, artisanal barong—made with the traditional piña fabric and accentuated with embroidery details, reminiscent of tattoo patterns of Cebuano natives called Pintados. His Mom, Cerina Bru, was born in Cebu, so this special outfit was Darren’s tribute to his dear mother’s roots.
The second barong Tagalog I designed for Darren showcased similar patterns. He wore it when he was a guest of honor at The Outstanding Filipinos in America (TOFA) virtual awards show, which paid tribute to 100 most influential Filipinos living in the United States.
After mentioning his awe in the brand’s beautifully woven art, Darren once again wore one of my creations during the world premiere of Disney’s Aladdin movie. This was held at the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood. He wore a black bomber jacket, fully embroidered with fine beadwork. Back then, I wanted to revolutionize how bomber jackets are made. And for that, I created it with my signature art deco patterns and intricately detailed beadwork. It made a great concept overall!
Why Choose Bespoke Pieces?
Darren only had wonderful compliments to say about the hand-tailored pieces that we created for him, which absolutely warmed our hearts. The sophistication of his outfits brought out his authentic self and has made a strong impact among friends, fans, and supporters—especially with the various Filipino communities around the world.
We believe that our clients’ traits inspire a wonderful outfit, which is why we always conduct consultations before conceptualizing a particular design. Our bespoke pieces are centered on a particular person’s character, how they want to look like wearing clothes that are well-made, and how they want to feel when they wear them.
A bespoke piece is a one-of-a-kind creation because it is delicately tailored to match a particular vision—created by its wearer. Truly a perfect way to express yourself.
Celebrating Christmas with Darren Criss
October 8 could now have come any faster. In fact, I can’t wait for Darren to serenade us with his melodic voice in his latest album! But for sure, it’ll be featuring songs to get us in the mood for the holiday season. For now, you can preorder “A Very Darren Crissmas” on music streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music!
Seeing Darren wearing a signature Francis Libiran creation—my masterpiece—on his album cover is an absolute privilege. Currently, Darren and I are keeping in touch for future opportunities, where I can dress him in the near future.
I believe that our friendship paved the way to develop great design ideas for him. His support means the world to me. And I will definitely be returning the favor as he embarks on this wonderful project. Indeed, #PinoyPride is making it big in Hollywood and I am loving it!
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