NEW TYPE #36: Mônot - ELI MIZRAHI INTERVIEW

December 07, 2020 10:34 PM

Beginning with his childhood in Lebanon, Eli Mizrahi garnished inspiration from across the globe to debut his evening wear brand, Mônot, last fall. The unperturbed designer, who is now based in New York, continues to push boundaries with his most recent Spring/Summer 2021 collection. Boasting exquisite cut-outs and glamorous silhouettes, Mônot is rapidly catching the attention of high-profile clients and drawing out the confidence of its wearers. 

 

-INTERVIEW- 

1. For readers who may not be familiar with Mônot, could you please introduce the concept and vision of the brand? 

The name speaks for itself. Mono is singular. Monot is also the plural of Mono; basically, the brand stands for both inclusivity and individuality. 

I wanted to create a sophisticated label with couture-level execution at an attainable price point. The sleek, minimalistic Mônot designs are both chic and timeless. Mônot pieces are designed to become staples in a woman’s wardrobe. 

2. When designing Mônot's Spring/Summer 2021 collection, was the creative process any different than usual, given the COVID-19 situation?

Luckily, I was in Ibiza, so I can't complain that much. I found the island to be incredibly inspiring during such a difficult time. Like others experienced, there were challenges to creating a collection during a pandemic. It also forced me to think even more outside the box, from sourcing materials to fittings to my digital fashion show.

I feel like fashion has fundamentally changed. This is the new "new." There's no turning back. Women will be even more strategic when it comes to the pieces they buy. They will be looking for timeless designs or statement pieces. Mônot checks both of those boxes.

3. It's refreshing to see Mônot's designs, which push limits and challenge the status quo. However, some of the more revealing looks might seem daunting. What would you say to someone who is unsure if they can actually pull-off the pieces?

I really think that a woman looks her sexiest when she feels confident. There is nothing sexier than a self-assured woman who knows who she is and isn’t looking for approval from anyone.

4. Architecture has been a huge inspiration behind your designs. What are some of your favorite sites, and how were you able to translate those images and emotions into your work?

In terms of architecture, what has always attracted me are those designs that have a geometric focus. I love the balance and precision of buildings that find creative ways to highlight or draw focus just by the way walls, beams, and foundations are placed. In terms of my favorite sites, well, there are too many to mention. But, off the top of my head, the Agora of the OAKA in Athens, the Kuggen in Gothenburg, the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, and the Shanghai Natural History Museum...

As far as my work is concerned, I have always used the woman’s skin complexion as a key element in the design itself. The clothing and the body work together to create the overall effect. Much in the same way the architecture of a building elevates its surroundings, that is my goal with my designs.

5. Other than architecture, what else inspires you? And how do you keep yourself creative, even when every-day life starts to feel mundane? Is there a certain time or place when you feel the most inspired?

Mundane doesn't exist in my vocabulary. I’ve always been a bit of a night owl, and that’s when I’m at my most creative. When the rest of the world is asleep, that's when I come up with all my crazies and most off-the-wall ideas. I find inspiration everywhere, from a simple walk down a city street or in the pages of a great book to trips I take to museums or places that I have never seen before. 

6. You often mention the great team of people you've collaborated with in order to make your brand a success. How have you gone about surrounding yourself with good people, and are there certain qualities you look for when building your team?

Before I launched my brand, I consulted with other labels and discovered through that process the sort of people I wanted to work with in a more profound way. I have always believed that the smartest thing anyone can do is surround themselves with even smarter people. You can’t be an expert at everything. It’s essential to hire the best people, so that together you can create something unforgettable. I am always looking for team players who are ready to take the initiative and to challenge me. I am not interested in “yes-men.” They will only stifle my creativity.

7. Your designs demand a certain level of confidence and comfort with one's self. What is the source of your own self-belief?

If you believe, you can be it.

8. Being from Beirut, and then coming to New York as a teenager, both your fashion sense and mentality towards life must have developed in a unique way. How do you think your childhood experiences have contributed to your career as a designer?

I was born in Beirut and raised in Monaco, and then I moved to New York when I was a teenager. I think my design DNA is a bit of a melting pot of all of the amazing places I have been lucky enough to have lived or visited during my lifetime. But, of course, Lebanon will always hold a special place in my heart.

9. You have spoken of shopping trips with your parents as a child. Did your parents ever advise you about fashion, and were they always supportive of your individual style?

Yes, I remember going on shopping trips with my mum and dad. But when it came to my personal choices, they weren't that supportive. Growing up, I was a real rebel when it came to what I wanted to wear. I went to private and boarding schools as a kid, and I was always getting thrown out for not wearing the school uniform. For me, clothing and how we style it is an incredibly powerful and empowering thing, and I had no intention of giving anyone else that power over me. 

10. What do you believe the key to personal fashion is?

There's no right or wrong. For me, it’s really all about knowing yourself. Knowing what you feel good in and what accentuates your best features. The most stylish and iconic women are the ones that forgo trends and follow their gut. At the end of the day, it all really comes down to confidence. If you believe in yourself, then the rest, and by extension what you are wearing, just falls into place.

11. What are your future hopes for Mônot, your career as a designer, and your personal life?

World domination. This is where I get to show my "humble" side (laughs). 

When it comes to my personal life, who knows! I live every day like it’s my last. But travel will always be a part of my future. Borneo, Papua New Guinea, and Bhutan are definitely on my bucket list.

 

 

INTERVIEWED/ WRITTEN BY JOANNA NISHIMOTO

EDITED BY KAREN YABUTA 

 

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