This story is part of “Serving You Style and Substance,” a video series where we get to know bold Filipino creatives with idiosyncratic styles through their influences and the narratives that they choose to explore.
What is home? The work of Toronto-based creative director and stylist Cat Calica is always in playful pursuit of answering this question. Whether she’s relearning to be her own muse when dressing herself in her lola’s malong or walking in a cloud of flowers in self-made foam shoes, she is in the process of connecting to her inner world and her roots.
In our fourth episode of “Serving You Style and Substance,” we had a chat with Calica, whose colorful history as a community artist includes curation and performance. We got to talk about her fave fashion shoots, brujeria, and so much more.
Hungry for more? Here are snippets from our conversation that didn’t make it in the show.
Can you tell us a little bit about your Instagram bio?
[On my] Instagram bio is Lola Pek. [The nickname came] from my former dance troupe Hataw. They usually call me Lola Pek because I would open my legs wide like a lola. Other notes on bio are bruha and living in technicolor. I’m just living in my own little world.
Also, my Instagram [handle] is yunguava. It’s connected to my Filipino self. Guava is a very medicinal plant and really good too.
What’s your approach to building your visual storybook?
I usually focus on how it feels, the words that come in my mind, and colors. But a lot of things that I get inspired by are very otherworldly, dysfunctional, and fun things. Nature, the deep sea, oscillant creatures, mushrooms—just learning the way they move or their textures.
Home is [also] a big approach for me. The Philippines has been a big inspiration—the people and nature.
Can you tell us a bit about your brujeria?
In my practice, I’ve tried to be more in tune with my body and our own traditional ways. My spirituality has always been so big to me since I was a kid. I connect that with astrology that we know here, Vedic astrology, Chinese zodiac and all those things. It all connects and we can learn from each other.
For astro non-believers, do you. If you believe in things that you don’t even know if they’re real, do you. Believe whatever you believe.
What’s your fave project that you’ve worked on?
I really want to dabble more on my work in foam and working with artists around that. To play around what home is—like my “Foam Home” project is weird and otherworldly. The [shoot] with Maylee Todd for Hella Pinay was really fun.
Which film director has the most solid filmography?
She’s getting all the love and I really appreciate her: Toronto-based director Alicia K. Harris. She’s a young Black director and I really like the way she approaches things. The way she shoots has softness but is straight to the point.
What’s a fashion collection or shoot that you find visually stunning?
One collection that I really like by Romance Was Born is called “Mushroom Magic.” I really appreciate the head-to-toe looks. I love the visuals and the music [in the show]. During [its release,] I was 20 or 21 and I was so inspired. I was like, “Damn I could be that person.” It inspired me to [look at fashion] as radical and avant-garde.
I also really like any shoots by [Dazed editor-in-chief] Ib Kamara. All their stuff, the texture and the colors that they focus on, are f*cking amazing. Pol Kurucz is so much fun. How he expresses himself as a creative director [involves] a splash of color. It’s bold.
What is your dream accent piece for your home?
A faux fur [egg-shaped] chair in orange or blue with the [inner] lining in red. A hologram. Or a cool sculpture by Rajni Perera or Leeroy New.
What’s your favorite piece in your closet?
There’s a lot of pieces that I really like. They’re mostly things that are handmade or by a friend who’s really fun. My go-tos lately are my scrunchies and colorful shirts [like the one I’m wearing] that’s made by my friend Diana Lynn VanderMeulen. She makes 3D art and she prints them onto a shirt.
I really like the one for “The Wizard of Oz.” How they did it was so magical. The construction was very out there. Other set designs that I like are from Tim Burton’s films.
If a genie wants to grant you three wishes, what would you wish for?
For everyone to have a roof over their head, drinkable and clean water, as well as food on their plates. I think that would be really cool, just everyone with that. Second, for all Indigenous people everywhere to have their land back. And my third wish is for natural habitats to grow again or for all humans to really start taking care of each other.