Get to Know: Cruz Bueno
Lucas Cruz Bueno, the designer behind the London-based couture house Cruz Bueno, is a man of many mottos. "Tell me with whom you surround yourself with and I will tell you who you are," he lyricizes as we discuss his latest collection. Considering that his atelier is located in the tony neighbourhood of Mayfair and his Instagram feed is chock-full of well-heeled ladies in their custom Cruz Bueno creations, we'd have to say that Lucas' surroundings portray a young designer that, while considered London's "best-kept secret," is on the edge of becoming the city's next big thing.
Despite creating one-of-kind pieces for women-in-the-know, Lucas sees his role in their life as more than a creator of garments. "I compare my work to that of a therapist – a fashion therapist," says the Portuguese designer. "I listen to what [my clients] have to say, their likes and dislikes, the parts of their body they are proud of (and the parts they want to hide); I understand their personality, their energy and how they want to the world to see them." From there, Lucas draws not just on his mad tailoring skills but on his understanding of human anatomy. As a formally trained ballet and contemporary dancer who studied dance for 13 years, it's his understanding of what he calls "the foundations of the body" that he has translated into his tailoring aesthetic, creating silhouettes that work and move with his client's form. "The body is by far the best machine ever created and is by far the most advanced technology one can ever imagine," says Lucas. "The way it works and moves can be applied in any spheres of life."
Choosing to apply this knowledge to fashion was a seamless transition. By training seven days a week, eight to ten hours a day, his whole world was dance and so, when he needed costumes for a dance recital, he made them himself. This snowballed into commissions from other dancers until he launched his own atelier. His respect for women as individuals lies at the heart his custom creations that are tailored to each client's specifications. "How can you put the 4 billion women of the world into boxes of sizes 6,8,10,12 and so forth? How can you label these unique beings?" says Lucas. His design philosophy is about more than respecting the individual - it's also about teaching his client's to appreciate their own beauty, both when wearing one of his pieces and even when not. "I could make the most amazing piece completely tailor made for a client, but if she doesn’t have the confidence to wear such power given to her, then the results will be completely different," says the designer. "Therefore, I need to keep polishing this rock until a diamond starts to shine." Therapy, indeed.
When clients step into Lucas' Old Bond Street atelier, they are enveloped by the scent of sandalwood and amber candles as a formal tea reception awaits. Marble Greek statues (Greek mythology being a passion and inspiration for Lucas) and vases overflowing with fresh flowers await. It is probably the nicest "therapist's" office in town. While many clients are there to request custom suiting and gowns, many are also there to discover the magic behind one of Cruz Bueno's Bijoux Bags. Creating one of his hand-sewn bags can take anywhere from one to two weeks depending on the complexity behind it and the type of luxurious embellishments that adorn each piece. It's a design process that Lucas compares to choreography. "When you choreograph you start from a rough idea that can be a song and you start layering movements until you have a bunch of sequences that will create a dance piece." For each bag, he thinks of the materials he want to use, then its shapes, volume, colours and effect, creating layers and taking some distance to view the overall design several times, always looking for the harmony between all elements.
For Lucas, harnessing his creative energy, whether in dance or in design, is what he feels he was born to do. "When exposed to the right environment, that [creative] energy started to expand and I have evolved into the creative person that I am now and the feeling is just so unique. You feel liberated, connected, your whole body just feels like everything is possible!" That's a feeling every women should have and it's one that, with a little help from your friendly Mayfair "therapist", you just may be able to achieve.