Whether it’s the Philippine flag or the rainbow flag, wave it up high because Bj Pascual is now the first Filipino collaborator of Calvin Klein Underwear.
Pride Month just ended, and it seems like Bj Pascual really knows how to end it with a bang. On the day of the Metro Manila Pride March, the renowned photographer posted his photo for Calvin Klein Underwear’s latest advertisement. Wearing just a denim jacket paired with Calvin Klein’s signature white brief, he surely proves he got what it takes to be a Calvin Klein collaborator.
He shared to MEGA that everything just happened so fast. “The brand approached me for this project when I was in Telaviv for Pride, it was just a little over a week and a half before Manila Pride/World Pride,” he explained as to how this opportunity came about. “Of course I immediately said yes, and thankfully they gave me the freedom to choose the creative team that I worked with on this project.”
So as he wanted to work with the best Filipino creatives for this special project, Bj tapped Regine David (who’s based in Tokyo) and director Paco Raterta. “I feel like Regine’s work constantly pushes society’s view of masculinity. That’s why she was top of mind when I booked this project, and why everyone flew to Japan to shoot!” he excitingly shared.
As for Paco Raterta, according to Bj, he is “for a lack of a better term, a f*cking genius when it comes to storytelling. I’ve never worked with anyone like him before. He shot, edited, composed the music, all in 3 days.”
And finally, completing his brilliant creative team was Omar Ermita—who has been a constant collaborator—was the one who did his makeup. “I have been a fan of all of their bodies of work. [So] I’m beyond ecstatic they all agreed to do this project!” Bj said.
Reconceptualizing the Dichotomy of Femininity and Masculinity
Calvin Klein’s models, endorsers, and collaborators have always been either perceived as very masculine or feminine. We were all mesmerized by the likes of Kendall Jenner, Kate Moss, Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendez, and many more. But this time, it only looks like Calvin Klein’s image is being re-conceptualized.
Regardless if you’re femme or masc, it seems like that doesn’t matter anymore for the famous underwear label. Perhaps that’s why Bj told us that he was at first in disbelief when he heard the news he’ll be in Calvin Klein Underwear’s advertisement.
“When you think of Calvin Klein underwear you usually think of buff, hypermasculine men in underwear, and I’m far from that,” he shared. “In fact, I’m the exact opposite. I’m soft and effeminate. I ‘sound gay.’ I wear makeup. I wear heels. That’s also precisely why I said yes—it would be great to represent another side of the community.”
Come to think of it, upon looking at all of his photos for the label, he made it a point to veer away from the traditional shoot highlighting masculinity. “As far as messaging goes, I wanted to do a play on the masc/femme dichotomy. Society in general, and even in the gay community, put so much of a premium on being masc, and that being femme makes you less than,” he said. “How many times have you heard ‘ang gwapo niya kaso malambot!’ or iterations of that?”
So with his observance on how society perceives effeminate guys, he wanted to keep on pushing the boundaries of the social construct that restricts others to accept themselves wholeheartedly. “I guess the message I wanted to get across is whether you’re masc or femme, hard or soft, whatever you want to call yourself, or not call yourself, you are attractive as long as you are true to yourself,” he explained.