sensually exotic and fiercely ambitious.
Whether talking about Monah
Li's eponymous clothing collection, or the designer herself, the same words
apply. In the competitive world of contemporary fashion, Monah Li has emerged
as one of the most exciting and original designers of her generation.
Monah Li created her first
dress at the age of 7, inspired by her nanny who, under the supervision of her
would-be designer mother, would sew all of the family's clothes. Monah Li's
taste for fine fabrics and lush trimmings began at an early age. At nine, she
cut up her mother's finest piece of linen to make a dress. Hoping to dissuade
her from a career in the "rag trade," Monah's parents sent her to
textile engineering school. At nineteen, Monah Li graduated with honors as one
of the only female students to have attended the prestigious Higher Teaching
Institute Industries in Austria. Monah then went on to art school where she
studied fashion design under Karl Lagerfeld.
Immersed in the Austrian music
scene of the early eighties and a singer and performance artist in her own
right, Monah Li started hand painting on her self-designed silk dresses.
"I was ridiculed by a lot of people at that time," says Monah.
"While I had the short punk haircut, I would still wear pretty little
outfits. Even though my clothes were made from torn and patchwork fabrics, I
always dressed too feminine for the crowd I hung out with," Monah
explains. I was inspired by the rich hippie clothes of the seventies,
Renaissance paintings, vivid colors and romantic looks. I just couldn't bring
myself to look too grungy." Soon Monah Li began selling her creations and
her collection experienced success in Europe, retailing in such recognized
stores as Cappuccino in Vienna and Ma Maison in Dusseldorf.
In 1984, Monah Li moved to Los
Angeles, immediately landing a job painting silk for Trashy Lingerie. In 1986,
she returned to Austria to further her education in pattern making and sewing,
winning an award from the Austrian Wool Secretary as Best Young Designer in
1988. She also opened her own store in Vienna. In
1989 she returned to Los
Angeles for good. Refocusing her collection, Monah Li soon began designing
women's and children's clothes for leading LA area retailers: Fred Segal and
Traffic. In 1992, she took a hiatus from designing to have her daughter Lily,
and returned with a renewed ambition in 1997. The current Monah Li Collection
makes a whimsical yet sophisticated statement, accenting feminine,
form-fitting pieces with delicate embroideries and clever architectural
detail. The collection is highlighted at Monah's signature boutique in L.A.'s
hip Los Feliz Village, which she opened in 1998. The vibrant Rococo space
featuring Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus" hand painted on the
salon floor, serves as a showcase for all seasonal Monah Li Creations. The
Monah Li Collection continues to grow with plans for expansion in the U.S. and
The Monah Li story is a modern
romance. She met writer Jerry Stahl, author of "Permanent Midnight,"
on which the landmark film was based, through mutual friends in 1995. Monah
was immediately drawn to his dark sense of humor and tremendous artistic
talent. The two have been inseparable while maintaining demanding schedules
that have included press tours, European travel and time for the daughters
fostered from previous relationships. Stahl's book, "Perve: A Love
Story" is dedicated to Monah, who lent emotional and editorial support to
his writing process.
Monah Li's success story is one
of courage to overcome the emotional and spiritual demons that plagued her
youth. It's a story of turning a childhood passion into a ground-breaking
collection that has been embraced by the fashion press on both coasts, and has
become a favorite day-to-evening resource for style makers including Nicole
Kidman, Salma Hayek, Barbara Streisand, Gina Gershon, Liv Tyler, Goldie Hawn,
Jada Pinkett Smith and Madonna. By
The Monah Li story is a
poignant profile of a visionary woman who, through sheer determination, has
triumphed over setbacks in her personal and professional life to become a
star-powered designer on the verge of international recognition.