Profiles in Style

Lisa Van LooJanuary 9, 2024
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What you wear is how you present yourself to the world, especially today, when human contacts are so quick,” Italian designer Miuccia Prada once said. “Fashion is instant language.” These Valley dwellers may share the lingua franca of loving clothes, but their dialects are as diverse as they are.

Photography by Chris Loomis

Jose Miguel Santiago

Santiago in his Phoenix home. Shoes by Steve Madden, jewelry by David Yurman.
Santiago in his Phoenix home. Shoes by Steve Madden, jewelry by David Yurman.

As the public safety media relations and communications manager for the City of Glendale – or, in English, the spokesperson for its police department – Jose Miguel Santiago pays attention to details all day long, because people will inevitably ask about them. When it comes to style, his embrace of the details carries over – from his affection for jeweled pins, loafers and bow ties to his gravitation toward blazers finished with glittery designs and sultry fabrics. Even when issuing statements about shootings and other grisly crimes, he’s not afraid to dive into bold colors or patterns, or take a chance on a splash of flash. Against an otherwise muted landscape of bureaucratic garb, his wardrobe offers an audacious alternative.

My style icon is a cross between the boldness of a Harry Styles along with the sophistication of a Ricky Martin. I also adore the stars of yesterday, like Rock Hudson or Desi Arnaz.

I feel most comfortable in color, color and color. Whether it’s my shirts or my shoes (yes, I have hot pink Jimmy Choo boots), I just love color. Even for formal events where the idea is black tie, I have to throw in color somewhere. I don’t feel complete without color.

I get style inspiration from no one person in particular. No one person’s style is perfect. I think it’s important to borrow a little bit from as many people as possible. I know what I like, just as much as I know what I don’t like. I can take a little bit from different people and combine them for one cohesive look that works for me.

A trend I think is always cool is a great blazer or jacket. The right jacket can always be dressed up or down. I think a lot of men get scared of patterns or flash, but paired with the right shirt or shoes, you will always make a statement.

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Patrick & Mary Burch

The Burches in their Phoenix men’s boutique, Cave + Post Trading Co. Mary wears a Magnolia Pearl dress and duster; Patrick wears Freenote Cloth duster pants and Double RL by Ralph Lauren shirt and vest.
The Burches in their Phoenix men’s boutique, Cave + Post Trading Co. Mary wears a Magnolia Pearl dress and duster; Patrick wears Freenote Cloth duster pants and Double RL by Ralph Lauren shirt and vest.

The married owners of Cave + Post Trading Co., a men’s mercantile in Phoenix, Patrick and Mary Burch speak with a vocabulary steeped in their sartorial obsessions. They long for pieces that have lived and lasted, or ones that promise to. Both embrace an appreciation for vintage or vintage-inspired pieces, and both loathe “garish” streetwear plastered with branding that supposedly defines its value. They’re old school, they lean into workwear (think suspenders or rugged pants) and they allow their appreciation for the West to seep into the collections they build at home and at Cave + Post. 

I’d describe my style as a mix of almost everything, but focused on chic and timeless pieces that never go out of fashion! I love vintage-inspired pieces with worn, frayed edges and repaired parts. I lean a little more tomboy or masculine for every day, but love a great dress or duster for fun occasions. I love a drapey, layered style with great fabrics, like linen, silk, chambray, velvet, etc. – Mary 

My style icon is probably [a young] Ralph Lauren, because he was bold, would wear what he thought was cool or hip, stepped outside the box and just owned it. Too many guys are not willing to step outside their comfort zone in order to do something a little more “bold” with their style. They have an attitude of, “I can’t pull that off.” Ralph Lauren didn’t care. He just did it. – Patrick 

The garment I get the most compliments on is my cowboy boots. I have too many, and wear them with everything. You can’t have too many boots, and there are so many amazing designers out there! If not boots, then it would have to be Magnolia Pearl dusters. No two are the same, and they bring style and a little drama to any outfit. – Mary 

You might be surprised that I love high-waisted pants. There is an old vintage workwear trend where guys wore high-waisted – often with suspenders – work pants. I just think they are super cool! – Patrick

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Afi Maita

Maita at her Scottsdale home. Dress by FARM Rio, earrings by Rad + Rae, bag and heels by Kurt Geiger.
Maita at her Scottsdale home. Dress by FARM Rio, earrings by Rad + Rae, bag and heels by Kurt Geiger.

Someone once described Afi Maita as a walking rainbow. She adored that characterization, which honestly speaks to both her vibrant style and her effervescent personality. As a stylist, model and influencer, Maita (who offers a phonetic explainer of her first name through her business name and social media handles: Afi Like Taffy) owns her eclectic and vivid style with confidence by wearing what works for her – be it a striking geometric pattern, an intriguing cut, an exceptional fabric or a tone that illuminates every drop of who she is. Born in West Africa and raised in London by a father who embraced style and fashion, Maita celebrates her global and familial influences at every opportunity.

The last piece I purchased is the dramatic, deep-V, printed, puffy-sleeved dress I wore for this lovely jubbly photoshoot! Created by one of my favorites, FARM Rio, the sustainable, Brazilian brand based out of Rio De Janeiro. It’s safe to state they are my obsession, really. Golly gumdrops, half of my closet is filled with their pieces!

I’d rather be caught dead than wearing Crocs with socks. I just don’t get it! I know they’re comfortable and all, but when I see adults wearing them, I immediately want to shout, “Take them off!” Furthermore, all those pins people decorate them with make me shiver with remorse.

My style icon is my dad. He inspires me to always dress for my higher self, giving me the confidence to go out into the world and accomplish my daily tasks and future dreams. Still to this day, my dad, Musa, is celebrated as a style icon in Africa.

If I need style inspiration, I go to the Vogue app, ELLE magazine [and] So Scottsdale magazine (where I am the product coordinator, so strategic here!). Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom’s websites all have fashion-forward trend reports that I’m constantly inspired by.

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Robert Black

Robert Black at his Scottsdale vintage shop, Fashion by Robert Black. Jacket is vintage Scully, jeans are 7 for All Mankind, boots by Liberty Boot Co.
Robert Black at his Scottsdale vintage shop, Fashion by Robert Black. Jacket is vintage Scully, jeans are 7 for All Mankind, boots by Liberty Boot Co.

If anyone knows style, it’s Robert Black. The preeminent local fashion plate has been immersed in the industry for decades, making his entrée in 1987 through his former modeling agency, FORD/Robert Black. Now, as owner of the vintage boutique Fashion by Robert Black, he has an eye for the eye-catching and embraces a classic yet vintage-accented look that gives texture to his extensive experience in the field. Surprisingly, he maintains he is a fan of comfort – invoking Coco Chanel, who said luxury must be comfortable – and feels his best in garments of quality, whether or not they’re designer-made. What does comfort look like to him when he’s at his Scottsdale home? “Jeans,” he says.

The garment I get the most compliments on is my bolo tie[s]. I’m a fan because of my New Mexico and Arizona upbringing, and when I wear them, I always am surprised by the compliments I get. I will admit my collection is pretty impressive, as they truly are Indigenous works of art.

My Holy Grail garment is a tuxedo jacket made by Scottsdale American Indigenous designer Lloyd Kiva New at the Heard Museum. I covet it! My business partner Doreen Picerne and I have an extensive LKN collection, and the piece I have yet to find is one of his very rare men’s jackets that will fit me. 

I get style inspiration from Tom Ford. I have always felt he was never in one specific box. His design, wherever he designed, is always cutting edge and innovative. The film projects and visual presentations in advertising make me think that he stays true to his own self. 

A trend I think is always cool is vintage. I personally believe that buying vintage clothing has been moving from trend to mainstream, but I love the person it attracts. The vintage buyer is always an open-minded fashion thinker, a bit out of the box and artistic with a whole lot of fun thrown in!

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Dr. Mona Amini

Amini at her Scottsdale psychiatry practice. Dress by NBD.
Amini at her Scottsdale psychiatry practice. Dress by NBD.

As the owner of a concierge psychiatry clinic called Mind Over Manolos, Dr. Mona Amini gives her Carrie Bradshaw-esque appreciation for fashion away right from the beginning. Her style, whether she’s in the office or attending a runway fashion show, is thoughtful, sleek, current and refined in an impeccable way – from head to high-heeled toe. Born and raised in Scottsdale, Amini describes her own style as one that blends a minimalist foundation with bold accessories (think a neutral suit with canary heels) to create a sophisticated balance of textures and fabrics that lands somewhere between daring and polished.

The last piece I purchased is a Fendi Peekaboo handbag with an additional strap, for customizing the accessory even more.

My Holy Grail garment is an exquisite, custom-made creation from a renowned fashion house. I envision a pilgrimage to the Dolce & Gabbana atelier in Milan, where I would collaborate with their master artisans to craft a dress uniquely tailored for a special occasion (the details of which are still a delightful mystery to me). 

You might be surprised that I love bold animal prints, with a special weakness for feline patterns, which I find irresistibly striking. Additionally, I’m not afraid to incorporate materials like vegan leather or vinyl into my outfits, embracing their edgy appeal to make a bold fashion statement. 

I feel most comfortable in an ensemble that blends business-casual attire with a dash of personal flair. My go-to outfit is a contemporary twist on the classic female pantsuit or skirt-suit. I have a penchant for layering, often opting for a sheen [shiny] blouse beneath a crisply tailored blazer. Additionally, I have a special fondness for boots in all their glorious forms – be it a chic bootie, an elegant knee-high or a bold thigh-high.

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