Menswear designer to the stars offers a collection that benefits charity

Emeril Lagasse looks sharp.

The restaurateur’s clothier is draping a silk jacquard tie around his shirt collar, tightening and centering the knot with both hands.

“There we go,” says David Heil, founder of David August, a Costa Mesa-based luxury menswear clothing brand.


Only it’s not really Lagasse. It’s a well-suited mannequin designed with the celebrity chef’s measurements.

Lagasse, one of the many A-list clients Heil outfits, is not in the designer’s swanky showroom bordering John Wayne Airport, but his dummy is, and Heil is using it to demonstrate his latest accessories collection.

Sales of the silk ties in navy, green, gray, purple, pink and blue — along with three companion Italian silk pocket squares in black, purple and navy —benefit Miracles for Kids, a Tustin-based charity serving children with life-threatening illnesses and their families by providing financial aid and basic needs.

The ties, priced at $295, and the pocket squares at $155, may be purchased online through the company’s website or in store.

“I love everything Miracles for Kids does for children and families,” says Heil of Laguna Beach. “The entire cause hits home because I have children — who are healthy — but I know friends and clients who have been affected.”

About 10 years ago, a client invited Heil to the nonprofit’s annual “Night of Miracles” event. After learning about the organization’s commitment to helping families struggling from financial and emotional distress while fighting for their children’s lives, Heil joined the charity’s board of directors.

Designing the neckties and pocket squares was a way to support the organization while also complementing a gentleman’s wardrobe, Heil said.

“The amount he has done — you can’t even measure the impact he has made,” said Autumn Strier, co-founder and CEO of Miracles for Kids. “It’s a real opportunity for us to lift a lid in our society and raise more awareness, build and grow, and it’s through him.”

David Heil shows one of his Miracles for Kids custom ties at the David August clothier headquarters in Costa Mesa.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer )

Heil started producing hand-crafted wardrobes for international leaders in business, professional sports, arts and entertainment more than 30 years ago.

He has since dressed more than 5,000 clients, including Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, actors Will Smith, Clint Eastwood, Sylvester Stallone and Robert Downey Jr., business tycoons Elon Musk and Warren Buffett, and mixed martial arts fighter Conor McGregor.

Over the weekend, Heil doffed life coach and author Tony Robbins.

Upon returning to his company’s headquarters, Heil flipped through a garment rack marked “Kobe,” as in Bryant, checking on the retired Newport Coast basketball star’s order of custom-made shirts, slacks and jackets.

A second garment rack read “Chainsmokers,” a Grammy Award-winning DJ and production duo for whom Heil designed tapered paisley cotton trousers.

A tailor in a nearby sewing room added the finishing touches on a white dinner jacket for one of the owners of the Golden State Warriors.

The work is done remotely.

“All my clients don’t want to meet me — they’re super-successful and don’t have time,” Heil said. “We take care of their lifestyle.”

So he and his team go to a client’s office, home or coordinate a Skype or FaceTime appointment, take measurements and gather information about the client’s needs for comfort and practicality.

From there, Heil gathers color schemes to flatter a client’s complexion and designs bespoke pieces that can be worn daily or on special occasions.

He also provides an illustrated guide where he shows clients how to create an interchangeable wardrobe. Each piece is numbered and coordinates with matching pants, shirts and shoes.

The new ties and pocket squares — which Heil says are versatile enough to be worn with any suit — are a way for him and clients to improve the lives of children in Southern California.

“I want the tie to be a reminder of what can happen in people’s lives,” Heil said, “and that bringing attention to it and helping others can be done in a fun and spirited way.”

Twitter: @KathleenLuppi