A sample of Garcia's works. Photography - Zuzanna Audette, Model - Andrea Brown, Makeup by Sherri Curtis for Tiffany Leigh Cosmetics-TLC, Hair by Chaunsey L. Hildebrandt
I fell in love with Nephi Garcia’s designs before I ever met him. I first saw his dress – a red structured piece with alligator imprinted patent leather detail down the back and exaggerated high studded shoulders, at a party at Ulysses Salon. I intently watched the dress that was covering a slim blonde frame, walk around the party and move from room to room. Finally, unable to keep my curiosity at bay, I approached and asked the woman where the dress had come from – a piece such as that is rare in Salt Lake City, even at a fashionable event. In a serendipitous moment, it turned out the wearer was indeed the designers wife, Bethanie Garcia, and he had designed the dress specifically for her. She brought me over to her husband and made an introduction.
Garcia, a small framed Filipino man with a larger than life personality, is no stranger to fashion design and construction. Born and raised in the Philippines, he comes from a history rich with designers. He is the fourth generation fashion designer in his family. His great grandfather, Mateo Dulay, was his hometown’s only tailor and his uncle Rusty Lopez is currently a well known shoe designer in the Philippines. However, it was his Italian grandmother, Adelina Papio, a graduate from fashion school in the ‘40s that specialized in couture evening and cocktail dresses, who was his biggest inspiration.
“I clearly remember watching my grandmother sew dresses. From the way she dyed her textiles to fitting it to her model, [it] was fascinating to me. I remember the elegance and delicateness of all her designs,” says Garcia on her teachings, which helped him create his first garment at the age of 12. “That's when I discovered the art and beauty of seeing your finished work on someone.”
Garcia is a newly transplanted Utahan, and first relocated to Utah for schooling that had nothing to do with fashion. Uninspired, he moved back to his family’s home in southern California to rethink his life and career path.
“Eventually, when I decided to pursue fashion, I knew that I wanted to be back in Utah and join the over flowingly talented people,” states Garcia.
In less than a year, Garcia’s designs took top honors as Designer of the Year at the RAW Awards, an indie art organization created by artists for artists that currently operates in 32 cities across the United States. His designs have been featured in numerous publications including UGLY Magazine and Dark Beauty Magazine, and have been shot by some of the top fashion photographers in Salt Lake, including Zuzanna Audette, Jeff Yeats, Lianna Michelle Hartley Russell and video director Michael Ori.
“I think Utah is becoming a trendsetting state. People are more comfortable expressing themselves individually and I would like to create an impact in Utah and beyond as a couturier,” says Garcia, who strongly believes that women should be two things: classy and fabulous. “There are so many beautiful figures and beautiful women in this state. I just want my designs to be on them and make them feel as beautiful as I see them,” he says.
Garcia believes that most of his designs come to fruition through his own wife’s style and elegance. In a market where the majority of designers focus on the elaborate and avant garde, Garcia sets himself apart by creating pieces that are simplistic and demure with a hint of vintage style. His wife is frequently seen with him on set and they bring their daughter, Lily. Lily, only 3 years old has already been a featured model and can be seen frequently in extravagant Garcia fashions. She has inspired Garcia to expand to creating dresses for children.
Currently, Garcia is focusing on custom designs, and women can contact him to make an appointment for a fitting. Garcia can create something specifically for the occasion, as he will work with customers on the initial illustrations and fit the garment to your specific measurements to ensure a perfect fit. Garcia can be reached at Facebook.com/ChristianNephiGarcia or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.