There exists a small number of images for which the word “iconic” can be attributed to in the instant they are born. These are images, which have the power to trigger the imagination, invite the words, “What if…?” Mônot creative designer, Lebanese Eli Mizrahi can rest assured that following a whirlwind 24 hours in Al Ula, the result of the pictures photographed by Luigi and Iango, and featuring Kate Moss, Mariacarla Boscono, Candice Swanepoel, Jourdan Dunn, Amber Valletta, Xiao Wen, and Alek Wek will stand as testament to the power of womanhood, collaboration, and the desire to push the envelope beyond, bringing new life to arid expanses.
Mizrahi was first invited to Saudi Arabia for the MDL Beast festival in December, he recalls the moment he landed at Al Ula as “surreal.” He instantly knew that this was where he wanted to shoot his forthcoming campaign. As for his chaperone, when the designer took him for dinner to show his gratitude, “He wouldn’t let me pay,” chuckles Mizrahi at the memory. “I am very drawn to that side of the culture.”
Mizrahi got to work on casting the supermodels, along with photographers Luigi and Iango. “I didn’t have a million bucks for this campaign,” assures Mizrahi. “But you never know until you try. I had my little army of supporters; Carine Roitfeld was on board, and I convinced the talent that they would look back on this moment—24 hours in Al Ula—as something special. Kate Moss not only came, but she was the first one on set at 5am and the last to leave.” As for Mizrahi, he remembers that he arrived on set in the desert in a blue, fur coat and sparkling shoes. “I lost two kilos, hiking up and down the dunes,” he laughs.
The campaign shot by Luigi and Iango suggests a woman on a journey, traveling through a jet-set glamorous lifestyle, wearing graphically-cut clothing that complement the Saudi architecture. Shot near Maraya, the largest mirrored building in the world, Mizrahi’s collection is inspired by contemporary artist Lucio Fontana and architect Eero Saarinen and offers a new futuristic paradox against the centuries-old rock formations. “Looking at the landscape, it is a self-reflection symbolizing what you can do. How do you view yourself? What does white represent? What does black represent?” Mizrahi furthers that he considers KSA to also be experiencing a period of self-reflection. “The message is about doing something… I don’t know, making history,” he smiles.
Looking to the future, Mizrahi shares that his brand strategy will motion towards showing seasonless collections twice a year. “Anyone with a good eye can make a beautiful dress,” he considers, “But that’s not going to get you far—there’s marketing and distribution, which I intend to limit as I don’t want Mônot accessible to everyone. A self-professed touche-à-tout, he admits to finding a certain satisfaction in going against the grain. “For me, as a Lebanese, I grew up in Monaco, lived in New York and Ibiza – I don’t want to be in a box.” As for what to expect next, these images will be venerated in a limited edition collector’s coffee table book and he hints that there is a project in the works with Cardi B, saying, “I’m a designer and I’m a risk taker, and I’m very happy.” Shop Mônot at Browns, Harvey Nichols, Tsum, LuisaVia Roma, and Moda Operandi
Mônot by Eli Mizrahi
Fall Winter ‘20 campaign
Photography Luigi & Iango
Fashion Editor Carine Roitfeld
Hair Luigi Murenu
Make up Georgi Sandev
Al Ula, Saudi Arabia