Following the success of Masquerade, Darren Criss is extra prolific in the music department this year as he is set to spread Christmas cheer with the release of his holiday-themed album, A Very Darren Crissmas.
While it can be greatly argued that all things considered, it doesn’t quite feel like the holidays just yet, especially in the strictest sense of Filipino culture, it is beginning to sound a lot like Christmas for sure. Just like clockwork, the spirit of the season was soundtracked by the likes of Mariah Carey, Jose Mari Chan, and of course, the good ‘ol classics, the onset of the ber months immediately felt warm, nostalgic, and even for a little bit, joyful. Whether it be more traditional or pop-laced, or if you are a fan of the holidays, there is something comforting about carols and songs particular to Christmas, so much so that for the longest time, musicians find some sort of success when they release yuletide-themed music. Joining the bandwagon, or dare we say, the sleigh, is Darren Criss, as he is set to release A Very Darren Crissmas.
“It really was only a matter time,” writes Darren Criss on Instagram ahead of the release of A Very Darren Crissmas. “I always knew that if I ever made Christmas album, it would have to be much more than just a collection of songs you already knew.” True enough, following the reveal of the holiday compilation tracklist, there are a few standards, but in a prolific effort, the originals stand out more, featuring self-penned tracks and interesting collaborations (Adam Lambert, Evan Rachel Wood, Lainey Wilson). “With songs you know, songs you don’t, songs you thought you knew…and songs you never knew you needed,” as the teaser of the tracks says, this musical undertaking is not only carefully thought of, but close to his heart as well.
Taking On Christmas Cheer
“I’d want it to be a journey through songs that not only had a personal significance to my life, but also a unique introduction to songs folks had never heard before, and a re-introduction to a few they might think they know—but have never considered differently,” Darren Criss further expands on the premise of A Very Darren Crissmas. “Every eclectic choice led this album to feel astutely true to its namesake: a very, indisputably, ‘me’ Christmas.”
Making it even more unique to himself and his definition of the holidays, the album art features Darren Criss as different members of his own family. With nothing more Christmas-y than that, the award-winning actor, musician (who also just recently released, Masquerade), and OG StarKid is seen in a very holiday image where he is dressed up as his late father, his mother, his brother Chuck, and his younger self. Sitting by the piano holding out a plate of treats is present-day Darren Criss, suited up in robe-like formal in marsala brocade by Filipino designer, Francis Libiran.
Always loud and proud about his Filipino roots, Darren Criss has been known to honor his heritage whenever possible. Whether be in interviews, part of his characters (see: Hollywood, The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, and Trese), and fashion, there will always be a nod to the Philippines. In fact, this isn’t the first time he is wearing a Filipino designer.
Ever since they got connected at the 76th Golden Globes in 2019, the two artists have struck a creative bond. From The Outstanding Filipino Americans virtual awards show, the premiere of Aladdin in Hollywood, and most importantly, the reception following his wedding to Mia Swier, Darren Criss always found the perfect occasion to wear a bespoke Francis Libiran piece. The latter was the most special as they collaborated on the design elements on the piña barong tagalog with Pintados tattoo-like details to hero Cebu, the hometown of his mother, Cerina.
Raring And Ready
For A Very Darren Crissmas, a more refined and rich take on the holidays was the main consideration of Francis Libiran for the wine and gray silk brocade suit of Darren Criss. A fresh take on the traditional suit, the precision of menswear relents to the graceful curves of the lapel that extends to a nice bow, in the spirit of gift-giving, of course. “The patterns used on the suit are elegantly unorthodox, highlighting a part of him who daringly embraces the beauty of being different,” details the Filipino designer in our interview. “Here we are, absolutely humbled that Darren decided to wear us for his Christmas album.”
As if echoing the vibrant visual of A Very Darren Crissmas and the Francis Libiran suit in particular, the lead single of the musical exposition is equally bold and considered. Realized in a rousing big band orchestration, Happy Holidays/The Holiday Season is more than enough to shift your mood and slowly get into the swing of the season. Indulging in the cheer and the charm of Christmas, Darren Criss is raring and ready to redefine his holidays, dutifully inviting you into his family for a very Darren Crissmas.
Read on below for more of our one-on-one with Francis Libiran:
Was Darren Criss hands on? How did the creative process go, despite the pandemic?
We basically presented him with style options, and then he gets to pick which one he prefers to
wear. The great thing about him is that he is so open to experiment with different styles or color
combinations, so it wasn’t difficult to work with him. Due to the pandemic, all of our consultations are
conducted virtually, so if we need to clarify anything with Darren’s team, we discuss it online.
What were the inspirations that were worked on for this particular look?
The inspiration behind the wine and gray silk brocade suit was a combination of muted elegance
and sharpness of character. It was basically Darren in a nutshell: he is a star that shines so brightly
every time he delivers a performance, but he is a grounded person who never shies away from his
What is it like working and collaborating with Darren Criss, especially with A Very Darren Crissmas?
Working with Darren never felt like work, actually. He is an easy person to talk to, and like I’ve
said, we’ve already established a friendship. Our working relationship is mutually beneficial through
our support for each other. I’d be very happy to collaborate with him in his future events soon!