Coral Gables-based designer Oscar Garcia-Lopez wowed the judges on Project Runway: Under the Gunn with his beautiful gowns. Now, he’s set on dressing the stars.

Oscar Garcia-Lopez at Rex Fabrics.
Oscar Garcia-Lopez at Rex Fabrics.

The winner of Project Runway: Under the Gunn’s debut season, Oscar Garcia-Lopez seemed somehow above the fray as reality-TV drama unfolded around him. “I try not to lose my inner child,” he says of dealing with the pressure. “Remembering this helps me stay happy.”

On Under the Gunn, hosted by Tim Gunn, Garcia-Lopez was an undeniable favorite with the show’s judges, including stylist Jen Rade and designer Rachel Roy, who all praised his ability to produce finished looks in a short period of time, such as designing a collection in three days. Indeed, he walked away with Roy as a client, designing both her dress for the Met Gala in early May as well as the Kim Kardashian-Kanye West wedding.

These days, he gets a little more time to think creatively from his house/studio in Coral Gables, creating body-flattering evening wear inspired by his upbringing in Cuba and his early career as a performer. His designs boast both drama and technical craftsmanship, and he uses color with panache—a plus when designing for Miami’s stylish, daring women.

A self-taught designer, Garcia-Lopez learned to sew by watching local seamstresses, and he designed clothes for his female friends. Later, Garcia-Lopez went on to graduate from the prestigious Tropicana dancing school in Havana and became part of a singing group that toured throughout Latin America for several years; outside of designing the costumes for the group, he did not pursue fashion until he moved to the US in 2004.

Upon his arrival in Miami, Garcia-Lopez started working for a local designer, performing fittings, designing pieces, and building relationships with high-end clients. In 2008, when he opened his own boutique in Coral Gables, he took the bulk of these clients with him. Today, Garcia-Lopez is keen to keep doing what he does best: designing custom gowns for fabulous women from all over the world. “I learned so much about myself and what I can produce from [Under the Gunn],” he says. “Now I love anything that forces me outside my comfort zone.”

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