Before the craze we are experiencing today, basically, few months back one of our top local writers and incredible editor sent me a message, with URGENT matter.
I was very suspicious of an URGENT matter, very much so. I thought, well, she might have to attend a gala, a cocktail brunch, or a meeting, or new headshots, and/or a trip to the Caribbean and has no idea to what to buy, what to wear, what to take with her. You know, this is been all my life, yup!… Worse than a surgeon!
I get all these calls with much urgency, as you know fashion is not only a matter of self-expression, trend or what people would think of you. It is also a matter of financial position, and respect.
So, I sent an email back, and she said that I was one of the “selected” local personas to be interviewed for the annual book WHERE, that is distribute all over the state.,…So, I said WHERE? to be WHERE?
I have two other interviews on the print and the web sites, of WHERE Magazine:
This one? the annual 2019 book? never!
So, this is the printed version. I’ll get you a copy If you want,
but since space is tight on that type of publication, there is the entire interview ;
WHERE TRAVELER Magazine: Oscar De las salas
Here is the link;
Can you give me a 3-4-sentence bio about you?
When it comes to fashion and style, Oscar De las salas has it in spades.
Oscar is one of the Phoenix Metro area’s most recognizable dapper dressers, outspoken fashion critic, and design trends advisor. A skilled architect and interior designer, Oscar manages opportunity development for Gensler’s Phoenix office and likes to keep the pulse of his Arizona community through his continued involvement with non-profit organizations.
Despite the voluminous CV, De las salas can sum up his wide-ranging talents in one simple phrase: “Design is what I do.”
You are an advocate of the community in Metro Phoenix—why?
I landed here 20 plus years ago with four suitcases and knowing only one person who had opened the doors of his home to me for a short period of time. After much debate on returning to Europe where I still had studies to complete, what I had discovered in this desert was an evolving art, fashion and design community. Because of the city’s creative potential, I took a chance and continued to grow within a vibrant city.
I had spent contemplating whether or not Phoenix was for me. It took me quite some time to realize that the city offered plenty of creative outlets and design opportunities – both of which I was looking for to help me contribute to Phoenix’s urban progression. With this, I decided to lend all my talents to make that change.
Because of my passion for design and affinity for all things style and fashion, I became deeply engraved in being part of the transformation of a thriving urban center. I strongly believed that I could put my skills, talents and interest in the development of Metro Phoenix and give whatever I am able to give.
My continuing advocacy to this town is my own way of saying thank you to a community that accepted me wholeheartedly. With plenty of opportunities, I feel like there’s still so much more to do and I hope that we, the Phoenix community, can continue what we have accomplished so far. There really is so much more to do!
What are some of your favorite causes here in town?
My husband, Gary, and I talk about this all the time.
To share a story, we had experienced a shameful and bigoted behavior from a local during the most special of all days – our wedding. However, we realized that we had so much support and positive energy by the most wonderful and inspiring individuals in this community. This experience of ours made it our goal to prevent individuals to experience to same. Our focus was to make a positive impact on the next generation. My husband and I chose to advocate for the freedom and support the youth in our community – the freedom for our LGBTQ community and the constant vigilance for equality in our society.
We are also inspired by the often overlooked world of arts and the importance of creativity as a form of individual expression to the health of any community. Our passions diverge slightly with my focus on the applied arts as an architect and designer, while Gary in the performing arts being a former singer/actor. But we are joined by our belief in the importance of arts to the future of our youth. So we tend to support initiatives which orbit these two worlds.
Ultimately, we truly believe that our children will listen to what we say and will learn from what we show them. Supporting the full scope of their education, including arts and personal expression, as well as ensuring that they are provided with a healthy environment (both physically and mentally) is the best and only hope of having a stronger, better future.
Our contributions to organizations like;
plus our support of visual and performing arts, bring the focus to the best of us – to the kids.
You are what people label a trendsetter—very fashionable! Why is fashion important to you?
At a young age, my father always thought me the importance of always being presentable – this as one of the many other valuable lessons in life he taught me. My mother, a true fashionista (even before the word became popular in social media terms) used fashion to speak for herself and fostered fashion to cultivate intellectuality and manners. Those two elements combined – discipline and aesthetics – helped create the Oscar that I am today.
Fashion is a way to tell a story about yourself without talking, and style as a way to express who you are before the first letter is even written about you. I tend to think that I reside on the latter.
A trendsetter is someone who someone who creates his/her style pending on the waves created by the fashion industry. I stay firm with my clean, simple and comfortable style – with moments of rebellion and loud tones. Because hey! Fashion is an expression of who you are and how you feel.
What fashion trends are you seeing for the Valley for 2019-2020?
It seems that we are continuing to enjoy the polished tapered silhouettes for men and women, with the trend of oversized coats echoing an early 1980s vibe. We will go on and on in admiring new stretch-beaded materials that are see-through, but you will see added heavy embellishments and oversized sleeves for women – I suggest you keep an eye on those as they won’t be hard to miss! I think that they will become huge in the next season. Perhaps adding fringe details and sassy flats for footwear to your ensemble for a high/low silhouette.
Gents will keep with a tapered 1940s look, with the look being refined, elegant, dapper and spiffy. Look for a double-breasted comeback, but short in cut. Trim, short and lots of buttons.
The three-piece suits will be your call to elegance, along with a trimmed elegant mustache for facial hair.
In terms of street fashion, you will spy clashes of pattern-on-pattern with the focus on your pants as the bold fashion statement. To announce this new era, the re-appearance of the coveralls will set the tone (to match the mustache, I presume!), plus we will see men in pleated skirts – I guess for the dudes that are true code breakers.
You’re in the world of architecture. What attracts you to that industry?
Since I was a kid, I’ve always wanted to create, build and make things.
I wanted to build anything that had volume; I wanted to tangle and untangle the pieces, to pull apart then build. Anything that needed coloring, I was ready to figure out colors and patterns. Anything that needed to be put together, I was very eager to see if I am able to do it. Anything that needed to be drawn (like my mother’s changes she wanted from fashion catalogues), I was the type to immediately draw them on a sheet of paper.
My career brought me from hands-on design to project management – another work area I am also passionate about. To be part of the city’s growth and transformation, to pursue business, to bring the best of talents to a city that needs it – that is what drives me. Perhaps, developing business and being participant of the city’s landscape as a whole is where I find myself most comfortable, and I believe that it is a place where I am able to make a difference in my own environment.
From the shape of a city to the smallest details in construction, from the shape of a building to the color of a wall, our world of architecture dictates how we live. I am fascinated with the power of design and more so, the power of architecture.
Trends in Metro Phoenix in architecture?
We will see more and more local businesses looking for branding through the design of their buildings and interiors, looking to have a singular image that is unique and unlike any other company. Businesses will keep pushing for a distinctive look, but will be largely influenced by local flavor leveraging the native materials and sampling construction techniques.
The, the spearhead of our design findings in our office, has a complete chapter about creating design that recognizes local culture and the need of going back to local business. I see the new City heading towards that direction. Visually, the heavy use of black, grey and stark white in terms of contrasting interiors will be the best way to describe the new trend in color for interiors and exteriors. The use of brass and rose tones on hardware, with a heavy mix of rustic shapes and exposed materials (before they are covered and embellished) will happen across industries and not just in restaurants.
Inevitably, the current stage in design is the modern “farmhouse.”I have no explanation for the sudden trend, but it is a powerful trend you’ll see everywhere. Trust me, neighborhoods will change from the kitsch-fabulous, Hollywood-TV-show 50’s ranch homes into a Lego/Monopoly alike “Country Barbie” developments.
Now, do you remember the “everything Tuscan” trend?
Look what happened to it, it phased out quite quickly. I think the modern-farm is just a trend, but here nonetheless it will stay for a while.
In terms of urban developments, the city will try to regain the power of downtown.
The downtowns of the local metro centers will have their own flavor; City of Phoenix, City of Mesa, City of Scottsdale, Town of Gilbert, City of Goodyear, Glendale, etc. This urban transformation will give us a change in proportion of the current skyline, bringing us forward to the ones of the big cities. In the interest of living with everything within walking distance rather than driving distance, Metro Phoenix will definitely change how we live/see our city.
In your opinion, what makes Metro Phoenix a great place to visit?
This is a town with a bit of everything for everyone.
It is a metropolitan city that due to its size and geographical spread, you can either be very involved in the community and meet people, or simply retrench without full disconnection. It is incredibly international with multiple ethnicities and a diversity of cultures. But due to the large footprint of the city, you are likely to barely feel them. There are jewels all over town, but they need to be found!
The weather allows you to enjoy nature for most months of the year, which makes this place perfect for all outdoors activities, including my favorite – hiking. The resorts and spas are incredibly well designed, with unusually extensive vistas to the Sonoran desert, and of course, there are our famous Arizona sunsets– they are absolutely incredible.
The local flavors with a large Mexican influence make this place an incredible source of modern Southwest cuisine. But since many people have moved to town from basically everywhere, there are all sorts of flavors to try with blends of Southwestern foods with foods from every other continent. Truly unique!
What were artist-driven secluded areas are now discovered and part of the urban city, with their own urban language. The Roosevelt District in downtown has flavor and gritty taste of Phoenix, so is the eclectic Grand Avenue Arts District. The city has also large event spaces and arenas, hosting various happenings all year round – from tradeshows to concerts. Phoenix keeps growing and has so much to offer in so many ways. People are warm and welcoming, and will do anything to make you feel home, which is why it makes a wonderful place to visit!
Any favorite spots around town (shops, restaurants or destinations)?
My favorites and the ones I always go to:
Hillstone at the Biltmore for Friday lunch, to see the locals kicking off the weekend. Farm & Craft wins for Sunday brunch with their endless ‘mimosas until the ice cube melts’, and anytime is the right time at The Windsor for their towering Reuben Sandwich. If I have time (and am cheating on my diet!), I never pass up Sprinklesin Scottsdale or the Creamstry for a sweet tooth fix.
For coffee, there is nothing like Press Coffee in front of the Phoenix Art Museum – it is so urban! Or close by is Giant Coffee near our famous Burton Barr Library for yes you guessed it, a giant cup of coffee. Now, if I want to venture to Arcadia, I stop at The Henry Restaurant and then swing by Chestnut Fine Food & Provisions for my craving for good pastries.
Any restaurant by the hand of chef Silvana Salcido-Esparza is golden, but my favorite is Barrio Gran Reserva on Grand Avenue. Chef Justin Beckett has two restaurants to pick from, both of which I love: Beckett’s Table on Indian School and 38 Street and Southern Rail on Camelback and Third Avenue. Now If I am looking for spaghetti and meatballs, Mark Tarbell has it at Tarbell’s on Camelback and 32nd Street. But if it is French cuisine, I have to stop at the Wrigley Mansion to visit with my friend Christopher Gross from Christopher’s who by the way will open a restaurant at the Phoenix Sky Harbor Terminal 3, and is remodeling extensively the mansion. He makes incredible pigs feet (yes, pigs feet) and while there, grab a nightcap at Jamie’s Wine Barwith a large selection of champagne. Tres superieur!
For parties and events, we go to Angelic Grove, who have designed a fantastic warehouse event space called The Croft Downtown in the heart of the downtown warehouse district. If I am picking flowers-on-the-go, I go to Amazing Flowers on Central Avenue, south of Camelback.
For my frames and glasses I have to go to local optical experts at Framed- Ewe they have an exquisite selection from all over the world and then you have to stop right next-door at Phoenix General for the perfect local cotton tees and latest artist fashions. If I am looking for furnishings with a twist and modern looks, then I have to venture to Modernique, at Uptown Plaza or scoot down the street to Red Modern Furniture, whose stunning building design gives a preview of what they have to offer.
Now, if I want to go shopping? The luxury wing at the Scottsdale Fashion Square has labels, labels and more labels, but make sure you also stop by Trina Turk & Mr. Turk from Palm Springs who has an incredible resort-style that fits this town so well. To shop local and vintage, Vintage by Misty has an array of anything and everything one should/could/want to wear. If it is for my girlfriends and it is couture, then Roxanne’s Couture is the place to go in Downtown Scottsdale, and if you are into jewels, then JN Jewels by my friend Jacqueline Nerguzian is where I go, and with a very artistic spin Karen Hall Jewelry and her signature crochet technique is amazing. Since I am in Scottsdale, then I have to stop at Scottsdale Quarter to pick-up a suit, or a shirt and tie at SuitSupply. In all candor, I’ve been their Global Ambassador for a few years now since their brand fits my style to a tee!
And lastly, I must always stop at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art or SMoCA and view the best of contemporary art in the Valley of the Sun. My mission for the last 10+ years as a board member has been to connect locals and visitors to the best of the city and I consider SMoCA to be one of those gems in the valley.
So, this was one of mu favorite interviews to today, as I was able to talk about my life in the city. A place I love and I call home!
Always in style,