Derrick Cruz Has a Slight Bee Obsession

Cruz in his hive. Photo: Melissa Hom

Though he's known as the designer for Black Sheep and Prodigal Son, Derrick Cruz has another line to boast about: Dark Momentos. The accessories brand won a Gen Art award in 2007 and, most recently, landed on the heartthrobs of Gossip Girl. But wait, there's more! See Cruz is a honeybee fanatic. And tonight his curated installation, "A New Hive," opens at Earnest Sewn. We dragged Derrick away from his makeshift hive to talk about the genius of the black T-shirt, TV, and his sticky sweet accessories.

So your installation revolves entirely around the disappearance of honeybees. What’s with the bee fixation?
I was doing some research about bee mythology a few years back for some limited-edition necklaces I was creating for BBlessing. That was when I found out about colony collapse disorder (a recent phenomenon in which honeybees are abandoning their hives en masse) and became obsessed with the little critters. If bees disappear, we won't be able to eat. Every third bite of food we take is something that has been pollinated by bees. Your entire Happy Meal is gone. No more cream soda for you.

And bees also fit into your accessories?
I was visiting the hives, and I found this abandoned honeycomb. I took it to my studio, cleaned it up, and cast directly from that wax into eighteen-karat gold to create pendants. I recruited the caramel artisans from Papabubble to insert the necklaces in a 25-inch hivelike pyramid made of sugar. There are pieces of gold in crevices filled with honey. You have to crack through the hive, stick the pieces in your mouth, and suck off the honey to get to the gold.

Yes, that's a 25-pound block of beeswax.Photo: Melissa Hom


How would you describe your style?
Dark, simple, and utilitarian. I wear a lot of black.

What item of clothing is essential to your wardrobe?
The black T-shirt. I like Earnest Sewn T-shirts because they’re supersoft. And honestly, I wear Gap T-shirts.

What was the first designer item you bought?
I just started caring about shoes when I started dating my current girlfriend. I recently bought some Cloak shoes. I’ve been lusting after these shoes for a while — they’re black-on-black suede. They’re kind of casual posh; they even look good with shorts.

What trends do you wish would go away?
Louvered sunglasses. Why are they on the street? Why is that happening?

Where do you shop?
I like BBlessing and the Cast for printed T-shirts. And I really love Assembly on Ludlow. I spend a lot of time on the Lower East Side because my studio is down here, and Greg from Assembly is bringing in really great curated vintage stuff.

Do you have favorite designers?
Right now I really love the menswear designer Cory Gomberg. Also, I have darker, goth tendencies so I always loved Cloak.

What staple item should every man have in his closet?
Underwear and socks. I don’t think there is any one thing that everyone should have.

Do you wear your own jewelry?
No, I don’t, actually. I’ve made myself a ring or two and that’s about it. Necklaces make me feel like I’m choking, rings make me feel like my blood’s not flowing, and trinkets make me feel like I’m going to get caught on a cab and get dragged down the street.

How did your accessories end up on Gossip Girl?

Our friend Meredith is the stylist for the show. She was like, “I need to make these kids look rich and hip at the same time.” It was kind of weird to see my jewelry on that kind of show. But then they had the rock-and-roller dad wearing my ram's-head stickpin, and I thought, Well, at least they gave it to the legit dad. —Lauren Murrow

"A New Hive," Earnest Sewn, 821 Washington St., nr. Gansevoort St., 212-242-3414; 7/9–7/31.