Is Carl Jan Cruz the future of men’s fashion?

I meet CJ Cruz in 2008, while shooting Fatima Rábago at my house.
Kai Huang was the photographer. Melvin Mojica (L) and I were styling.

Melvin, Kai, Fatima

At that time CJ was practically a baby at 16 years old, the same age as my baby sister Ana.
He had tagged along as Melvin’s assistant and now considers Melvin his mentor.
Since Melvin considers me his mentor, does that make me CJ’s grandma mentor?

CJ Cruz + HMG

Shortly after we met, CJ moved to London to study fashion design but would frequently return to Manila, where he interned for Melissa Dizon at Eairth and eventually set up his own workshop in Taguig.

Carl Jan Cruz in Taguig
CJ Cruz in Taguig, photographed by Judd Figueres

“I’ve been in London for five years now since I was 16,” said CJ. “My dad is from London and I am British by default of citizenship. I wanted to explore the culture I didn’t grow up in, since we moved to Manila when I was four years old.”
CJ ended up studying at London College of Fashion under the BA Programme and did very well.
His capsule collection was recently featured in Vogue UK.

CJ Cruz
CJ CruzCJ Cruz
CJ Cruz
CJ Cruz
CJ Cruz

“It’s a visual autobiography,” CJ explains. “These are clothes, silhouettes, and colours that I trust and stand by. I pragmatically designed them and continuously pushed the envelope of its possibilities.
I believe it’s an honest, discreet, and intimate collection—very personal from the development of the fabrics with the mills, cutting and producing it, adding all the final details.”

Everything was made in the Philippines.
“It is also a challenge to myself regarding integrity. I believe in integrity and hopefully that is one thing my generation can sustain and push for—quality over quantity. Grounding oneself and being self-aware helps a lot, it makes one see what we really want.”

So what’s next for Carl Jan Cruz?
“Slow motion. I have designed this be a permanent collection that I can keep offering and developing whilst growing in the industry. I am still up for serving time under houses I believe in, and that will make me grow.”

To know more about CJ Cruz, click here.

Trying out Wee Nam Kee’s new dishes

It’s been a while since I last went to Singapore—February 2013 to be exact.
I’m a little scared to go because every time I visit, I gain weight.
Lately I’ve been going to Wee Nam Kee at Serendra due to its convenient location. I like to go at off-peak hours and I don’t mind eating alone, because I try to have my dinner before 6 PM.
I usually go for the classic chicken rice and cereal prawns.

wee nam kee

Cereal prawns are covered in a mountain of cereal mixed with curry leaves, chili, corn flour, milk powder, eggs, sugar, butter. No sharing, no leftover.

Cereal prawns, Wee Nam Kee

Aside from those two, my favourite Singaporean dish has to be fried chicken in shrimp paste. It is the best thing ever. The best I’ve had was at YY Kafei Dian on Bugis Road, but the owner was sungit (read: bad mood) because it’s not on the menu. I’m afraid to go back.

Chicken with shrimp paste batter

So usually we take a cab all the way to Powsing in Serangoon Garden Way so I can have my fried chicken in shrimp paste fix. These are so good.

Shrimp paste fried chicken wings

Last week I found out Wee Nam Kee in the Philippines has a new menu, which includes Prawn Paste Chicken Wings.
So last Sunday, we were there. It did not disappoint.

Fried chicken in shrimp paste

We started off with the crispy Mantou bread dipped in condensed milk. My husband Jeroen says it’s just like a fried cuapao.


Jeroen and our friend Joris both enjoyed the wok-fried chicken with chili and cashews

chicken with cashew

as well as the butterflied tilapia with chili crab sauce—perfect for those who don’t want to work for their food (translation: ayaw maghimay).

butterflied tilapia

As for the kids, they loved the chicken but were looking for plain rice.
What they really loved was the Milo Dinosaur—a tall glass of chocolate milk topped with Milo sand.

Milo dinosaur

Pardon the candid photos. We had four kids at our table and tons of food—very hard to take proper food pics.
I’m thrilled that Wee Nam Kee has a new branch at Shangri-La Plaza’s East Wing—much closer to home, with many shops to discover.

Wee Nam Kee at Shangri-La

Wee Nam Kee has many other new dishes. Didn’t get to try them all, but I’ll be back for my favourites.


Established in 1989 in Singapore, Wee Nam Kee now has eight branches in the Philippines:
Ayala Triangle Gardens, Serendra, Glorietta 2, Alabang Town Center, Promenade Greenhills, Trinoma, Shangri-La East Wing, and the new Fairview Terraces Mall in Quezon City.
To know more about their new dishes, follow them on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter @WeeNamKeePH

Isobel Francisco’s “Icarus Smicarus” at Vinyl on Vinyl

Isobel Francisco memorialises Icarus in her stunning new collection of visual pieces at Vinyl on Vinyl gallery from June 19 to 30, 2014.
Icarus was the son of master craftsman Daedelus, who made him a pair of wings out of wax and feathers.
Despite being warned not to fly too close to the sun to avoid its heat, Icarus was overcome by the powerful sensation of flying.
Soaring wildly and carelessly, the sun had melted his delicate wings and he fell to his death in ocean now called the Icarian sea.

Isobel DESCENT 55x24 OC Isobel ASCENT 55x24 OC

The tension between our prominence and pettiness in the grand scheme of the universe was Isobel’s driving force. “The mythical character Icarus serves as a cautionary tale,” she said. “We are a scientific marvel and yet we remain, in the larger sense, insignificant. We struggle with this knowledge versus our innate desire to rise above ourselves and to explore the why’s of our being. What else could we do in such a short amount of time we have but to set ourselves on fire?”

Isobel CHERRY BOMB 12x12 OC
Isobel EMBERS 12x12 OC
Isobel SPARK 12x12 OC

Isobel Francisco’s Icarus Smicarus will be on view at Vinyl on Vinyl, The Collective, Malugay Street, Metro Manila until June 30, 2014.

Wear your team on your feet with Keds, Sperry, and Havaianas

Football fever is on as Complex Lifestyle Store offers three limited edition collections collections from Sperry Top-Sider, Keds and Havaianas.
Brazil’s most popular Havaianas flip-flops celebrates football’s greets teams led Brazil, Argentina, France, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. (Php 1,145)

Havalanas x World Cup

Sperry Top-Sider’s limited edition Authentic Original Flag Pack features the classic boat shoe in colour ways inspired by flags from around the world. (Php 5,295)

Sperry flag shoes

And Keds Flag Collection for girls features the Champion silhouette printed with the flags of England, Spain, and Brazil. (Php 2,795)

Keds Champion USKeds Champion Portugal
Keds Champion GermanyKeds Champion FranceKeds Champion EnglandKeds Champion Brazil
Keds Champion SpainKeds Champion Italy

Complex Lifestyle Store is located in Eastwood Mall (Level 2), Shangri-la Plaza (East Wing, Level 5), Glorietta 5 (Ground Floor), Alabang Town Center (Level 2), Festival Mall (Level 2), Fairview Terraces (Level 2) and Ayala Center Cebu (Level 2).
For more information, visit or follow @complexstore on Twitter and @complexlifestylestore on Instagram.

Take a sneak peek into H&M in the Philippines

A recent visit to SM Megamall’s new Fashion Hall revealed three floors of H&M in progress, scheduled to open third quarter of this year. That means we’re at least two to three months away from having our own H&M in the Philippines.

H&M at SM Fashion Hall

Encompassing more than 3,000 square meters of space, H&M at SM Fashion Hall starts on the main floor all the way to the third level. It is clearly massive. Gisele Bundchen is all over the walls.

H&M at SM Fashion Hall

Last Tuesday, H&M opened their Manila showroom to special guests who got to preview what’s coming to the store this Autumn 2014.

H&M preview
H&M showroom in Manila

There were collections for men, women, and children

H&M showroom in Manila
H&M showroom in Manila

At first I thought Daniel Padilla had become a DJ, but it was DJ Badkiss on the deck

H&M preview in Manila

Drinks overflowed

H&M preview in Manila
H&M preview in Manila

I loved the flowers

H&M preview in Manila

and took these home. Thank you! They are still alive!!

H&M preview in Manila

Spotted at the event were the H&M team: Karin Bringevall, H&M PR Project Responsible, New Market Expansion; Danreb Mejia, H&M PH PR Responsible; Nikki Verzo, H&M PH Showroom Responsible; Abby Wee, PR Exec; and Lisa Chai, Regional PR Responsible

H&M team- Karin Bringevall, H&M PR Project Responsible, New Market Expansion, Danreb Mejia, H&M PH PR Responsible, Nikki Verzo, H&M PH Showroom Responsible, Abby Wee, PR Exec and Lisa Chan, Regional PR Responsible

Nicole Jacinto, Grace Velasco, Alexei Villaraza

Nicole Jacinto, Grace Velasco, Alexei Villaraza

Actress Lauren Young

Lauren Young

Rogue Editor-in-Chief Paolo Reyes, Rosanna Ocampo-Rodriguez, Juana Yupangco, Sidney Yap, Luis Espiritu and Kelly Misa-Fernandez

Rogue EIC Paolo Reyes, Rosanna Ocampo-Rodriguez, Juana Yupangco, Sidney Yap, Luis Espiritu and Kelly Misa-Fernandez

Janeena Chan

Janeena Chan

Donna Cuna-Pita, Myrza Sison, Isha Valles and Ianne Evangelista

Donna Cuna-Pita, Myrza Sison, Isha Valles and Ianne Evangelista

Dong Ronquillo

Dong Ronquillo

and me!

Cecile van Straten

Here’s my favourite piece from Autumn 2014—a nice hooded bathrobe jacket, perfect for the plane


As a “tomgirl”, I preferred the men’s pieces to the womens

H&M men
H&M men
H&M men
H&M menH&M men

When I was a kid there were only two dress shops in Manila—Mary Mike and something else that sold itchy puff-sleeve dresses. Kids have it so good these days…

H&M kids
H&M kids
H&M kids

And we can’t wait.
H&M at SM Fashion Hall will be part of the brand’s 3,200 locations across 54 markets worldwide.
“We are very proud to open our first store in the Philippines. H&M has always been about making great fashion and quality at the best price, and Manila promises to be a very exciting market,” said Magnus Olsson, Country Manager of Greater China and South East Asia H&M.
“We realise how much the country’s fashion-savvy shoppers have been anticipating the arrival of H&M, and we can’t wait to see how they will respond to the opening of this first store.”

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