The Cult of Cristalette
Cris in Cristalette with a new design
Designer Cris Armijo is single-handedly making the Bay Area more colorful with her neon-hued body-conscious creations. Using seemingly disparate elements like fiery printed fabrics that recall the bold audacity of Keith Haring’s urban-meets-tribal aesthetic, the nostalgic romance of vintage patterns and a fierce “anything goes” club kid sensibility; Armijo’s innovative designs present a bright future for fashion in the SF Bay Area. Armijo—who designs under the name Cristalette—started out altering vintage threads, rock T-shirts and customizing denim and now designs a full line of men’s and women’s apparel in her cozy Oakland home-studio. Unsurprising, Cristalette’s unabashed sensuality and vibrant-colored pieces have caught the attention of numerous Bay Area bands like Von Iva and Gravy Train!!!! who have sought out Armijo to design both stage gear and costumes for music videos. With a growing client list and a high demand for her pieces Cris Armijo is sure to be a fashion mainstay. I recently caught up with Cris Armijo at her studio to discuss Cristalette and all things fashion.
How would you describe Cristalette to someone who's never seen your designs?
Cris Armijo: Youthful, energetic, colorful, vibrant, simple and unique. It is the idea of the future and the past colliding, the healing power of color, the energy of patterns and the release of self-consciousness.
Who is the Cristalette customer?
CA: The Cristalette customer is free-spirited, uniquely stylish and willing to stand out and be new. I make custom clothing for performers and musicians as well.
How did you start designing?
CA: I started altering vintage clothing when I was twelve, later I began copying vintage pieces and adjusting them to suit my tastes and incorporating a modern aesthetic.
Feeling festive? This dress is named Thanksgiving
What are your major fashion inspirations?
CA: There is no one thing that inspires me, but I take a lot of inspiration from rock n’ roll artists and movie characters. I like to observe everyday people too. Often old people can be the most inspiring—they are less self-conscious and are usually putting together the best color combinations.
What are your thoughts on the Bay Area fashion scene?
CA: The Bay Area has a lot of stylish people, but I hope to turn people on to color and a playful notion of sexiness. There seems to be a lot of fear among stylish women of the Bay Area in terms of sex appeal.
Where can you find/buy Cristalette?
CA: My signature beaded earrings are sold at Down at Lulu's in Oakland, and both earrings and clothing are available at Painted Bird in SF and online at bonadrag.com.
What exactly is the customer appreciation party you are throwing at Deco Lounge?
CA: This party is meant to both say thank you to my supporters and clients, and give them the opportunity to meet their extended Cristalette family. Cristalette is a vision of inclusion and participation. I felt that throwing a party was the best way for me to actualize that idea and share it.
Cris hard at work in her Oakland studio
Do you or did you have a fashion mentor?
CA: My friends are so amazing and stylish. They are the people that amaze and inspire me the most.
You design stage wear for a bunch of SF Bay Area bands. Which bands are you working with?
CA: My roster includes Gravy Train!!!!, Von Iva, Hottub, Rapatron— now Patron, Casual Fog, The Rubies, Jenna Riot, Moral Tourists, Benjamin Oak Goodman. I am lucky that I have met all these folks as friends, and they believe in my ability to create fashions that express their inner truth.
What is in store for the future, in terms of Cristalette?
CA: Hopefully a website, a physical local, a family of artists and the cult of Cristalette.
Want more Cristalette? Come to the Cristalette One Year Anniversary Party that doubles as a customer appreciation soiree on Friday, November 30, at Deco Lounge. The party boasts live music by Hottub (a devoted client) and DJs in addition to free admission and access to the VIP Champagne Room for customers and band members who don Cristalette the night of the party.