Venture into the metallic universe of Graham Cruz: Fashion Designer and Stylist to the Stars
If we were granted three wishes, we would almost certainly use one to ensure our portfolio looked as impressive as Graham Cruz’s. A collaboration with Harvey Nichols? He’s completed it. Launching a designer label? Cruz has done it. Cover of Vogue? Yes, you guessed it, he’s nailed that too, alongside Kourtney Kardashian, who appeared in his iconic metallic bodice piece, we must add. In his 20+ years as a stylist, Graham Cruz has dressed everybody from Ava Max and Lizzo to Samuel L. Jackson and Stanley Tucci, all while crafting some of the most iconic covers of Harper’s Bazaar, 1883, and i-D Magazine, to name just a few. Magazine by Runway Gallery caught up with Cruz after the recent launch of his eponymous womenswear brand, to discuss his otherworldly pieces, and find out why the future is not only bright for Graham Cruz. Rather, the future is “SHINY, SHINY, SHINY!”
With a career that spans across two decades, Graham Cruz has styled some of the biggest names in Hollywood, along with countless icons in the music and fashion industries. Whoever Cruz is working with, he always begins the styling process in the same way, as he shared: “For me, it all starts with the ‘who’… I think of all of my shoots like costuming mini-movies, and I use the styling to bring the characters to life”. Cruz continued:
“Clothes have the power to shape the world’s perception of you, and for that, they are so powerful. So it’s all starts with ‘who is this character’ and once I answer that it’s easy to work out what would be in their wardrobe”.
Working alongside these celebrities are just part of Graham Cruz’s everyday routine, however, occasionally, Cruz finds himself surprised by a star, as he revealed: “One of the most surprising was Samuel L. Jackson, not because he was different than I expected, but because he was everything I hoped he would be. When you work with Samuel L Jackson, you get exactly what you would hope to get!”
While Graham Cruz’s sharp eye for style has established his name in the fashion industry, it is his Celtic roots that also deserve some recognition in his journey to success. “I’m not sure if my Celtic roots have directly impacted on the visuals of my work, but they have most definitely shaped how I work; with humility, passion, a sense of humour, and a genuine interest in the people I work with. Irish are a sociable lot”.
Cruz’s personality also reveals itself through his thought process as he style’s his clients, as he explained: “I never dress my clients to look like me (that would be weird), but I dress everyone with the same thought process behind how I dress myself. It’s all about confidence in what you’re wearing, and a complete disregard for other options. I would never compromise how I want myself or my clients to look because of how others may react. I believe what someone else thinks of you is none of your business”.
Graham Cruz has seen his work on the cover of magazine’s across the globe, though, it is his recent collaboration with Vogue Arabia that makes him feel the proudest. “I styled the shoot with Kourtney Kardashian, and the shot with one of my womenswear pieces was chosen as the cover, which I didn’t know about until the magazine hit the shelves”, shared Cruz:
“As a stylist and a designer, the cover of Vogue is a career milestone, and I had the pleasure of shooting this with my amazingly talented friends. It doesn’t get better than that”.
Alongside reaching the pinnacle of the magazine industry, Cruz has also collaborated with brands at the top of the retail game, including Harvey Nichols, which Cruz touched upon: “I worked with Harvey Nichols in Ireland to produce and style several shows for them. The team there were amazing. They gave me such incredible creative freedom; it was a joy”.
In 2019 Graham Cruz launched his womenswear brand, which is behind the striking metallic bodice pieces you may have seen your favourite singer debut on the cover of an international publication. Expanding his focus to womenswear was not a challenge for Cruz, who revealed: “I’ve been a stylist for over 20 years and have worked on womenswear and menswear in equal amounts, just at different times throughout my career, so it wasn’t something brand new for me”.
Cruz’s metallic designs are instantly recognisable and undeniably iconic, but what was the inspiration behind these somewhat intergalactic pieces? “I loved the idea of taking a traditionally hard or rigid material and infusing it with movement and a sense of fluid grace” revealed Cruz, who added how “the juxtaposition makes for dynamic pieces”.
Cruz then addressed the vital relationship between art and fashion, which lays, not only at the core of Runway Gallery but at the forefront of his work:
“I talk about my pieces as ‘wearable sculptures’ as that’s exactly how I approach the design process. I look at all of my work as art-focused firstly and garments secondly”.
On the subject of Runway Gallery, Cruz revealed that if he were to collaborate with any artist, he would choose Sue Dray, sharing: “I met Sue at a party several years ago and have been obsessed with her ever since”. He continued: “Apart from her work being incredible, Sue is one of the most amazing people I know, and I’ve already had the pleasure of posing for Sue on a couple of occasions”.
In the year that followed the launch of his designer label, the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the fashion industry; however, Graham Cruz shared how he was able to keep working, despite the inevitable restrictions. “I’m really lucky to have an amazing workspace where I was able to still go during the pandemic” he shared, before expanding further, “The downtime allowed me to experiment with materials and new techniques, and I’m super excited to share the results soon”.
Though Cruz was determined not to share too many secrets of what we can expect to see, he did reveal that his new collection “is a departure from what you’ve seen so far. Still in the same Galaxy, just on a different planet”. Cruz expanded, “What does the future look like for me? “SHINY, SHINY, SHINY!”
By Megan Slack- Contributing Editor
Magazine by Runway Gallery