Meet Fashion Designer David Tupaz
Some might say that Las Vegas fashion designer David Tupaz was born with a silver medallion in his mouth. Or that high-society couture was his destiny, his birthright. David was raised in a cultured, musical, artistic family in the Philippines. For generations, David’s father’s family owned and ran the official government engraving business, (think Franklin Mint, Filipino version.) His mother was an English professor who nurtured her children’s talents to enable them to become the best and brightest at whatever they chose. She started David on piano lessons at age 6.
“My entire family was musical and artistic,” David explains with pride. “Although I grew up in a household where elegant fashion was all around me, my boyhood dream was archeology. I wanted to get my fingers dirty digging up dinosaur bones and brushing the dust off ancient paintings in caves.”
By high school David fancied becoming a museum curator. In college, he ultimately studied architecture and interior design. When an unexpected opportunity to move to New York City arose, he jumped on it.
Without any formal training in fashion, he became a hands-on intern for Mark Fahmy of Oscar De la Renta, HK Limited, under the exclusive ready-to-wear line labeled “MISS O.” David worked his way from assistant to fabric buyer to pattern maker and design assistant.
After nearly six years, David’s friend Liz Tilberis, the former editor of Vogue U.K. and Harper’s Bazaar, took him aside. She said, “David, you cannot be an assistant forever. It’s time for you to discover your potential and spread your wings!”
The advice of Liz Tilberis changed his life.
Taking her words to heart, David moved to Los Angeles to give birth to his own fashion line. By then he had a stellar fashion background and a lot to offer. “I learned about sewing and design the old way, techniques from the days of couture popularized by Dior and Chanel. I saw the brilliance of what could be created by the human hand,” he explains. “People don’t realize that 80% of all couture is hand-made. That’s why it’s museum quality.”
Although he was trained in the manner of the Haute Couture tradition, his break in Hollywood was not as easy as he expected. “Being a minority and an Asian, I knew my chances were slim, but I knew that Filipino talent was on par with the best of the world and that was my inspiration to keep going,” he says.
After much hard work, near misses, and last-minute miracles, David’s determination paid off and he is now living his dream. He was voted as one of the TOP 40 designers of the west coast by Fashion Group International, Los Angeles in July of 2010. He built his name catering mostly to the entertainment industry, dressing celebrities, sports figures, first ladies, royalty and high society mavens from Manila, Hong Kong, London, Paris, LA to NY and Washington DC. His signature line is classic elegance, structured tailored femininity and follows the grand approach of dignified grace and style.
David Tupaz Couture now graces major red carpet events from the Emmy’s to the Golden Globes, the Oscars and the Grammy’s. Past clients include Julia Roberts, Jane Seymour, Goldie Hawn, Kate Hudson, Mariel Hemingway, Etta James, Bo Derek, William and Elizabeth Shatner, Alan and Tanya Thicke, the Khardashians, and former first lady Imelda Marcos to name a few.
“I think being an artist somehow makes one feel responsible! Without artistry, we would have never discovered and understood the value of history and humanity from the prehistoric paintings inside the cave walls to the writings of ancient Greece to the hieroglyphics of ancient Egypt. Art and culture drive me! The little difference that I as an artist can contribute to make life beautiful keeps me motivated and going.”
David Tupaz was lured to Las Vegas by a style consultant gig. What David thought would be a one-month gig turned into him becoming a new resident in the city Las Vegas. He was surprised, however, when he realized that Las Vegas represents designers from everywhere in the world – except Las Vegas. “It’s easy to find Louis Vuitton, Vera Wang, Armani, Calvin Klein, you name it, but the design talent in Las Vegas seemed not to exist. No one took the effort to promote or organize it,” says David Tupaz. Typical of Tupaz passion and leadership, David then founded the Las Vegas Fashion Design Council which he patterned after the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), the source of endless inspiration for David. The Las Vegas Fashion Design Council is one-year old this month.
Carolyn G. Goodman, the mayor of Las Vegas, approves.
“Las Vegas is the number one tourist destination in the world, and we offer the best in entertainment, dining, boutique shopping, resorts and gaming,” Mayor Carolyn G. Goodman says. “With all the glitz, glamour and neon of Las Vegas we are a natural fit for the fashion industry, and I’m very supportive of the ongoing efforts of uniquely talented individuals like David Tupaz and all those working to bring a fashion presence to Las Vegas.”
“The last time I saw Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue, she said she was worried about where American fashion will go,” says Tupaz. “The Las Vegas Fashion Design Council will not only help bring the fashion industry to Las Vegas by allowing Vegas designers to have a venue and visibility, but we will also help mentor the youth and guide emerging designers on how they can become the future of fashion.”
Alexi Taryn, a new designer from Las Vegas, describes how David’s mentoring impacted his own career. “He was my inspiration in terms of being a designer. Since he has been in the industry for so long, he helped me know which sources to go to for fabric, how to look for the best manufacturers. I would not have my own collection today if it were not for his mentoring.”
On May 31, 2013, the Las Vegas Fashion Design Council, a non-profit organization, is hosting a fundraiser called “Dance Meets Fashion” in collaboration the Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater, founded by Bernard Glubbis, choreographer for Cirque du Soleil. A portion of the dance and movements will introduce the models as they come in.
The reception for the event will be held in the courtyard of the Smith Center at 5:30 and will feature the work of various Las Vegas designers. The dance and fashion show featuring David Tupaz Couture as headliner will be at 7:00 pm in the Troesh Studio Theater. Fashions icons and fashion celebrities have been invited.
“If David says it, David does it,” says Taryn. “He is not about himself. He is more about the experience of helping people to move forward and progress with their dreams.”
GALLERY – DAVID TUPAZ: CLIENTS & FRIENDS
GALLERY – CHARITY FASHION SHOW with LAND ROVER LV
“MODELS FOR MUTTS” Fashion Show to benefit The Animal Foundation, sponsored by Contagious Studio,LV