Alexis Monsanto: Elite Fashion Designer

Alexis Monsanto studied Fashion Design at Otis College of Art & Design. In 2011, he opened his own design studio ALEXIS MONSANTO ATELIER, on West Hollywood’s highly coveted Melrose Avenue Fashion Strip as well as became the first American designer to present his work in a 3D Fashion Show which made him in the top 20 newsmakers in 2011.

A model is walking down the runway showcasing a vibrant green knit dress with fringe details, accessorized with sunglasses, a necklace, and a handbag.Monsanto is the noted designer who launched the Positano label in the Young Men’s Contemporary Market in the late 1990’s. He has been creatively involved with many ready-to-wear labels like Miken Clothing, Tt Collection by Topson Downs, Fluxus, Artisan De Luxe, Ron Herman Vintage just to name a few. His work in collaboration with various brands has been sold at major retailers across the country. Monsanto is now recognized as a red-carpet and bridal designer, honing in on his roots as his interest in design originated in ornate evening wear and formal pieces.  Other than designing for his label, he still consults and continues to design capsule collection for SW3 Bespoke, Loveappella and Cado Clothing that are sold in Nordstom and Neiman Marcus. In mid 2017 Monsanto joined with UNISYNC, a Canada based Outerwear & Uniform Apparel Corp. as consultant and lead in the Wear Test Program of Alaska Airlines for a new wardrobe by March of 2020 to its 19K employees.

Alexis Monsanto has sold out opening or finale shows during New York Fashion Week &  LA Fashion Week with standing ovations by the audience. He has also headlined Fashion Houston 5, Latin Factory, Tulsa Fashion Week, Lifestyle Network Launch, IPOP Grand Finale twice a year and several charity shows in Chicago and Los Angeles. 

In addition to designing, he also devotes his time to non-profit organizations in Southern California (GLAAD, HRC, Trevor Project, APAIT,  LAGLC, GMCLA) serving their board/committees and spearheading fundraising activities to American Heart Asso. Red Dress Gala, Project Angel Food & to fight for equal rights for LGBT in America. 

Can you tell us about your journey in the fashion industry, from studying Fashion Design to opening your own design studio? What inspired you to pursue a career in fashion?

During my Senior year in college, I was offered an assistant designer position by Leonardo Igloria, a very well-known couturier in Cebu City. He saw the potential in me. He took me under his wing and showed me how to create on-the-spot sketches and designs for clients. He showed me the fundamentals of designing, sketching style lines, attending garment fittings, adding trims, and creating embroidery for specific clients. He hired me full-time in his boutique and I eventually developed my own clientele. Gianfranco Ferre at Dior, Emanuel Ungaro, and Valentino were the inspirations of my early formative years. Their designs are classic and yet feminine. But my lifelong dream of becoming a fashion designer in America led me to pack my bags and move to Los Angeles, CA, where I earned my fashion design degree and Master of Fine Arts (MFA) at the Otis College of Art and Design

As the first American designer to present your work in a 3D Fashion Show, can you share your experience and the impact it had on your career?

It has made a huge impact on my career. It placed me in history books and made me number 22 of the top 25 fashion newsmakers in 2012.

You have collaborated with various ready-to-wear labels and your work has been sold at major retailers across the country. How has working with different brands influenced your design aesthetic and approach?

My design approach when working on a certain brand, is to separate my own personal style from the line that I am designing. I can easily detach from my emotions and  design within the price point of the target market of the brand.

Your focus has shifted towards red-carpet and bridal designs. What drew you to these areas, and how do you incorporate your design roots in ornate evening wear and formal pieces into your current work?

My design sensibilities in my custom made and bespoke tailoring are more aligned with the luxury wear market. This market is not easy to tap, but when my special clients come and make an appointment in the atelier, they want their design to be exclusive. The high fashion dresses and gowns are more challenging in terms of style, design, and embellishments. With evening wear and bridal designs, I can create the pieces with restraint or with heavily embellished fabrics. It depends on the client and the budget. 

You continue to design capsule collections for different brands that are sold in renowned retailers like Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus. How do you balance designing for your own label and collaborating with other brands?

Before I start a project each season with brands that are doing private labels with Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and other Federated Department stores, it is very imperative for me to do my market research in terms of trends and forecasting. It is also essential for me to meet the merchandisers and buyers during trade shows and I listen to National Sales manager regarding style feedback and what the stores are looking for the coming season. 

In 2017, you joined UNISYNC as a consultant and lead in the Wear Test Program of Alaska Airlines for a new wardrobe. Can you tell us more about this experience and the challenges you faced in designing for such a large-scale project?

My extensive experience working with the Ready-To-Wear market gave me enough knowledge to deal with the 150 employees who signed up for the program. During the development of the design and concept, a forum was created. It is always my starting point when I introduce a fresh style/product for a certain market. Questionnaires were sent randomly to different employees from different departments. Then the fabrics were created by the mills depending on contents, the design were executed on patterns, first samples were made before duplicates, approvals were done and production. Then these individuals came back for fittings, educated with styling and accessorizing and they wore the garments at work for 3 months. A questionnaire is sent again for feedback on function, wearability, practicality, design & care. Then the design is tweaked, style line’s /patterns, and fabrics are rectified before proceeding to production then to distribution and sale. The entire process took almost 4 years in the making.

Your Black label designs are known for their exquisite tailoring and precision cuts. How do you ensure that your designs complement a woman’s body and accentuate the silhouette?

There is a secret to what I do to achieve that. But one thing I know is when the client has a big smile in front of the mirror and leaves happy from the shop after paying top dollar on their custom order gown or suit and they tag me positively in their social media that is my affirmation.

Your work has been worn by many notable figures in Hollywood, as well as Gold Medalist Olympians and beauty queens. How does it feel to have your designs chosen by such prominent individuals, and how does their feedback influence your future work?

It is a huge accomplishment, a dream come true, it helps tremendously to elevate the brand. But I do not sit on my laurels afterward, I need to work hard repeatedly on a different scale.

You have been actively involved in red carpet predictions for the Golden Globes and Oscars. Can you share your approach to predicting fashion trends and what it’s like to be recognized as a fashion expert?

During the awards season when the studio or program will ask me to be on camera it takes a lot of preparation. Just like any actor being nominated their team will prepare them. I will study closely the actors nominated in Hollywood’s major awards or just the Hollywood elite that will be attending or presenting. Prior to the Golden Globes or Oscars, awards are already given, and I will observe their presence at each event. I know for sure their consistency in appearance and how their beauty team works and who their management linked them up as brand ambassadors. I also consult beauty experts in terms of trends in hair and make-up.

Alongside your design career, you dedicate your time to non-profit organizations and fundraising activities. Can you tell us about your involvement with these organizations and why it’s important for you to support causes like equal rights for the LGBT community?

I am grateful for the many opportunities I have received in my life. I want to maximize the blessings bestowed on me by helping organizations that have the greatest scope of impact on society. Non-profit organizations like Project Angel Food (www.angelfood.org) provides a service that is crucial all over the Southland for so many needy people, no matter what their race, creed, or background. 

You have had successful shows at New York Fashion Week, LA Fashion Week, and other prominent fashion events. How do you prepare for such high-profile shows, and what has been the most memorable moment in your runway career so far?

Last year I did eight major shows. It was crazy and hectic. I felt mentally and physically drained. For this year I trimmed it down to five shows. It usually takes 10 weeks to prepare. I have a creative family of friends composed of filmmakers, editors, musicians, composers, and tv producers. I sit down with them and pitch ideas and get feedback on direction, vision, music, visuals, muse, and references. Then I get back to my team in the shop, interns, consultants, and industry professionals. I am a designer who is not afraid to bring colors on the runway. One of the most complex decisions is the color palette. Then I move on to ideas on silhouettes, sketching, editing fabrication, sourcing and on and on. I do not have an ego; I listen to critiques and edit a lot.  The best runway moment is when I get the applause of the guests who will hopefully turn into fans of the brand as a gesture of respect and utmost admiration of my work.

As a fashion designer, how do you stay inspired and keep up with evolving trends in the industry? Are there any particular sources or experiences that fuel your creativity?

I embrace a style that is irreverent, unafraid, existential, and provocative. With fashion I aspire to create challenges for myself, while creating a whimsical world for my client. Ideally, they will tap into a form of expression that would otherwise seem unattainable. I am inspired by everything in my life, from the cold black objectivity of commerce to the warm subjective embrace of the muses.

Looking ahead, what are your aspirations and goals for the future of your design career? Are there any specific projects or collaborations you would like to pursue?

I am working towards a big show project tied to an organization. I am also starting a platform which enables me to be mentor and display emerging designers and working on a project for television.

Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring fashion designers who are just starting their journey in the industry?

My advice for them is to work for a brand after graduation. Find your niche market. Focus on your goals. Design & create what sells. When the road gets bumpy, just navigate and be flexible but never give up on your dreams. Be patient, your turn will come in time.

photography below by Joe Garcia at LA Swim Week


A model is walking down the runway showcasing a vibrant green knit dress with fringe details, accessorized with sunglasses, a necklace, and a handbag.A model is walking down the runway showcasing a vibrant green knit dress with fringe details, accessorized with sunglasses, a necklace, and a handbag.A model is walking down the runway showcasing a vibrant green knit dress with fringe details, accessorized with sunglasses, a necklace, and a handbag.A model is walking down the runway showcasing a vibrant green knit dress with fringe details, accessorized with sunglasses, a necklace, and a handbag.A model is walking down the runway showcasing a vibrant green knit dress with fringe details, accessorized with sunglasses, a necklace, and a handbag.

David Christopher Lee

Editor-in-Chief

David Christopher Lee launched his first online magazine in 2001. As a young publisher, he had access to the most incredible events and innovators of the world. In 2009, he started Destinationluxury.com, one of the largest portals for all things luxury including 5 star properties, Michelin Star Restaurants and bespoke experiences. As a portrait photographer and producer, David has worked with many celebrities & major brands such as Richard Branson, the Kardashians, Lady Gaga, Cadillac, Lexus, Qatar Airways, Aman Hotels, just to name a few. David’s work has been published in major magazines such as GQ, Vogue, Instyle, People, Teen, Men’s Health, Departures & many more. He creates content with powerful seo marketing strategies.

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