I got the call.
The editors said:
- ” We loved your story and with your permission, please help us to pick the cover photo. Click!”
See, I agreed to tell my story, and have it accompanied of some editorial images by talented photographer David Lee from Paparazzo Film. Which by the way, he made the process of a 4 hours photoshoot incredibly easy and fun, but I never imagined that such magazine reserved for those in Paradise Valley had me as one of theirs.
Reading back the editorial written by Misha Katlik for approval, I called her inundated with emotions, because I saw in black and white, episodes of my life. I repeated “Thank you” so many times that I think that was all I said.
Here are the snippets of a moment in LIFE IN PARADISE VALLEY Magazine, December 2021.
This is the story by Misha:
Sitting with Oscar De las Salas inside of the award-winning modern saloon AZ/88, only steps away from Scottsdale’s Museum of Contemporary Art where he is a board member and served as creative co-chair for the museum’s annual gala and nationally acclaimed event “SMoCA Mix – Fashionably Avant- Garde.” His vision enticed designers from all over the world to bring their private collections to Arizona, including gowns worn by Beyonce and Lady Gaga amongst many others, to a fashion show of more than 200 models, 30 photographers, and the largest catwalk and red carpet ever seen in the state. Oscar was back
at it again this October 23rd as co-chair along with Beth McRae of the “An Evening of TRENDS Gala 2021.” The Gala honored ten ladies, TRENDSETTERS for their community leadership and volunteerism. This year’s honorees were Diane O’Malley, Lisa Portigal, Robin Snyder, and Dr. Stacie J. Stephenson of Paradise Valley along with Sandra Wilken, Kristen Sandquist, Sally Odegard, Tracey Lytle, Ronnie Keifer, Ruby Farias, and FABULOUS PHOENICIAN honoree Tim Braun – Philanthropist and General Manager of Neiman Marcus. The charity recipient of The Trends Charitable Fund was TGen (Transitional Genomics Research Foundation), an affiliate of the City of Hope. Gala guests enjoyed an interactive, live-streamed red-carpet arrival, extravagant cocktail reception, live auction, multi-course dinner, and after-party a la Oscar style.
Oscar is known for his mastery of style. He consulted for the interior designer of AZ/88’s elegant, minimal interior with its movable works of art and gallery installations that are constantly changing. He points to the colossal hanging disco ball style sculpture that star-lights the space, encapsulating the senses outwardly while the restroom design experience “makes you feel as if you have just stepped inside of a disco ball.” This is where every- one knows Oscar and where he threw his milestone birthday party – and why after sharing his sto-
ries, the mayor of Phoenix declared June 29th to become officially known as “OSCAR DAY.”
Born in Colombia, Oscar left Bogota after grad- uating with a master’s in architecture from the Universidad Piloto de Colombia to continue his education and pursue a master’s degree in interior architecture in Europe, just outside of Madrid, Spain at the renowned University of Salamanca – the second oldest university in the world after Oxford. He lived several years in Europe filing for an internship with an interior design company called Cassina based in Italy and from there took off traveling to Paris, Milan, Madrid, London. He worked in several countries as a consultant for interior architecture for the United States Federal Building Office and served as Interior Finishes Project Manager for the United States Embassies and coordinated projects in Lima, Singapore,
and Guantanamo, Cuba. Oscar wanted to grab everything, “Three months here, four months, six months there – it was the time of my life that I produced a lot of stuff out of my imagination!”
One weekend, in an underground little pub, Oscar met a photographer, who asked if he could help them design a set – “you know, like put stuff in the background and I was like, are you paying? Yeah, okay, I’ll bring it tomorrow.” He began weekend work with the agency in Milan where Mario Testino was the head photographer. Oscar created backgrounds for photo- shoots and styled models for fashion editorials. When they discovered he had a background as a model at age 18, they also signed him up to do model work for catalogs.
“Every weekend I made extra money – I was still a student, so I could use the money.” Oscar recalls creating the staging for a photoshoot outside of an abandoned 16th century Church of San Gaetano in Padua, Italy (Hawthorne’s setting of Rappaccini’s Daughter) – a beautiful background for the future wife of a millionaire. Oscar worked nonstop designing interiors during the week for the firms and creating sets on the weekend, all the while postponing his thesis project.
Finally, he received a letter from the Dean that he needed to make a decision about his thesis, “So I was always wanting to write about Frank Lloyd Wright. I wanted to go to Chicago, but I didn’t know anybody in Chicago at the time. I wrote him back and he said the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture at Taliesin West is about an hour from Phoenix, AZ. I know someone there, Perfect! I said, I’m going to go for six months, and come back to Madrid for my job interview with the production company. It was August 18th, 1998. I landed with four suitcases, two were my clothes (for each season, of course!) and two suitcases filled with my books, sketchbooks, class notes, rulers, squares, colors, and my diaries – I just landed in the inside of an oven!”
Oscar soon realized that his thesis was going to take longer than he expected. He sent a note to the Dean asking for an extension. Soon after, he met an architect who was looking for someone to do drawings, Oscar interviewed for the position, and they started the filing process for his work visa. He got his CCS and then he began to get more work and after 12 years he finalized his visa and his citizenship. Oscar is very proud of this, “It was a lot because a work visa is for specialized workers, so I had to go through the process of having to put ads in magazines and newspapers, careful to not take away any jobs from qualified citizens – It was a very long process.” Returning to his passion for design, Oscar served as principal of the modern architecture firm, Architectural Alliance Inc. and lead numerous municipal projects in Arizona including the award-winning Peoria Fire Station 196 – Vistancia.
Oscar has since gone on to stamp his elevated style as The Renaissance Man of the Modern World – Designer, Fashion Producer, Style Critic, Writer, and Creative Director. He is online and on TV, he chairs galas and attends all the big social events, he is a board member of the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art as well as the Friends of Phoenix Public Art and he still contracts for the multinational design and architecture firm he works for.
“I put all my talents to work. For me, everything is designed – from the coffee that you make, to the music that you listen to, and the spaces you inhabit. It’s like a James Bond movie, everything feels personalized for you. That is the maximum level that humans can be in luxury as we know today – the maximum expression of design.”
Upon first moving to Arizona, Oscar would write to his friends and family abroad. “I wrote a lot when I was here all by myself. I have a journal and I still love to write. I didn’t have friends here, so I used to send postcards to my friends, but they became these huge posters. It was so expensive to send them – so I went to 3D and then I received an email about my emails that said, Mark wants to be your friend. Mark Zuckerberg? Sure. He was like, just come join us and the flood gates just opened wide up. Everyone. All my friends jumped into social media, and I was posting on FB which is still my journal today. Everyone wanted to know what was going on – I had several offers from national networks and magazines were asking me to write about fashion but I was already working as an architect. It was crazy.”
Today, Oscar speaks of the importance of finding balance in life by creating quality time for each aspect of living. This includes quality time for him and his own version of family with the other two that make the perfect trifecta; His all-American dream husband Gary Jackson and their now elder pug of 14 years – Hugo.
Once again, “Thank you!”
Always in style,