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Alexis Monsanto: Master of the Renaissance

Alexis Monsanto was born in Ozamis City; he is a small-town kid with humble beginnings from Jimenez, Misamis Occidental, in Northern Mindanao, south of the Philippines.

Hailey Thompson, Arianna Kyla, Olga Aleksa, Trent Baldeo, Alexis Monsanto Secret Garden Collection

Models (left to right): Hailey Thompson, Arianna Kyla, Olga Aleksa, Trent Baldeo


He rose to fame as a hometown hero. It started with a small-town boy with a big dream to become successful and make his country proud. It is challenging to achieve success and have a well-known brand, yet Monsanto did all of that and more. He inspires others and helps people pursue their dreams, and helps transform their lives to become the best version of themselves.


From his early middle-class upbringing, he has lived in multiple places; his father worked at a petroleum company as a depot manager; he has moved around and traveled; he even attended a boarding school while in high school.


His father passed away when he was just 21 years old. He is the oldest; Agnes, his sister, is one year younger. Visette, his mother, is the rock of the family. He had to take charge, assist his mother, and assume the man of the house position.


Some have never left their hometowns, but Monsanto is lucky enough to have traveled to many beautiful places in the world, and these life lessons have shaped him into the man he is today: a cultured, well-traveled, and eloquent man.


"He always considered himself very creative." In addition, he was a born leader. In high school, he directed plays, performed and choreographed dances, won many poster drawing contests, and decorated sets and stages. "He was asked to design the internship uniform while he was a college student for his pre-med degree."

Hailey Thompson, Alexis Monsanto Secret Garden Collection

Model: Hailey Thompson


Monsanto would have been a filmmaker or a chef if he hadn't chosen to be a fashion designer. He has a gracious and hospitable heart. He likes to cook and throw lavish parties. He loves to create for his family and friends.


He received an offer to work in the shop as an assistant for a well-known fashion designer in Cebu City, Philippines, three months before he received his Bachelor of Science (BS) in Medical Technology (pre-med degree).


The owner of the boutique, Leonardo Igloria, took him under his wing and showed him 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 a specific client.


He was employed full-time in his shop and eventually developed a clientele. Gianfranco Ferre at Dior, Emanuel Ungaro, and Valentino were his inspirations in his early years. They are classic and very feminine.


But his lifelong dream of becoming a fashion designer in America led him to pack his bags full of hopes, dreams, courage, strong determination, and sheer talent and move to Los Angeles, CA, where he earned his fashion design degree and Master of Fine Arts (MFA) at the Otis College of Art and Design. He kept on going.

Model: Arianna Kyla


Monsanto is so talented and creative that everything he touches turns to gold. A man of Renaissance and style, a master of execution, delivers perfection with ease and grace, thanks to a man of revival.


His enlightened designs are so mesmerizing that you must step back and soak up all the intricate details and the divine draping and placement of the delicate silk chiffon fabric.


He's a master draper; he specializes in it. Monsanto is a modern Renaissance man. His clothes have a Grecian feel and touch. His beautiful creations have a Greek sensibility. Monsanto's storytelling creations presented on the runway have a cinematic feel.


Monsanto works hard on everything and delivers, but at the cost of blood, sweat, and tears. The moments people don't witness are the long, arduous hours and sleepless nights. Most people are unaware of the stress, headaches, last-minute hiccups, and backstage turmoil that go along with finishing a collection.


"The biggest misconception is, frankly, that people think that what fashion designers do is all glamorous and easy, whereas it's not at all." This career path is anything but glamorous; yes, there are fun moments, but it's a lot of work. No matter how good your designs are, you still must put in a lot of effort. You must persist, even knowing that sometimes your efforts will fail. Keep in mind that this will not happen overnight. "You must have the right team behind you that understands your vision because it's not just one man's show."


He is like a masterful conductor of music. He knows exactly how things should proceed. His vision comes to life. He understands the vision and conveys it to the audience. His integrity, competence, passion, communication, and respect for the audience and wearer are impeccable. Music to the ears!

Trent Baldeo, Alexis Monsanto Secret Garden Collection

Model: Trent Baldeo


Alexis Monsanto Atelier had his recent Spring-Summer '23 collection on the runways of Art Hearts Fashion both in NY Fashion Week and LA Fashion Week in September and October.


The title of the sophisticated collection is "Timeless Confections" because of the sweetness of its colors, flowers, and Audrey Hepburn. The woman wore clothing in delectable pastels. The classy range is brimming with delicate hues, flirtatious patterns, fabric treatments, embellishing, and, more importantly, exquisite style lines—all of which Monsanto has honed over time. He also drew inspiration from the movie Sabrina.


In every season when he designs and creates a collection, Monsanto endures pain and suffering in mounting and finishing his collection, which is typical for an artist. He does not compromise; he is passionate about his work and is a perfectionist. He frequently gets misunderstood.


He can take a breather as the model glides on the runway and twirls along with the music the way he directs them. Afterward, the pain was gone, and joy came; it was a feeling of euphoria. As he makes his final bow, it is all personified when everyone is on their feet to give him well-deserved applause.


His designs are fit for the gods and goddesses' heavenly layers of silk chiffon expertly draped around your body, and the clothes could be slightly transparent. When you wear one of his designs, you feel like royalty. You stand differently and walk differently. The gown can change your outlook on life. He captures the essence of the moment.

Olga Aleksa, Alexis Monsanto Secret Garden Collection

Model: Olga Aleksa


A few well-known individuals who have sported Monsanto's creations include Stephanie Beatriz from Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Felicity Hoffman from Desperate Housewives, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Kate Beckinsale, Simone Biles, Karla Mosley, and Laurie Hernandez.


Monsanto communicates well with others, and he embraces teamwork. He collaborates with the best in the fashion and entertainment worlds. He knows beauty when he comes across it.


The Alexis Monsanto Secret Garden Collection

The Alexis Monsanto Secret Garden Collection was photographed recently by emerging fashion photographer Rudy Salgado. The locations were in Hollywood Hills, the Rose Garden along Santa Monica Blvd., and in the courtyard of the Beverly Hills City Hall, which provided an ideal setting for the grandiose creations. The backdrop, with its serene fountains, flowers, and greenery, in the California Churrigueresque style, a type of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, paired perfectly with his designs.

The models were wearing Alexis Monsanto's signature looks: ballgowns, form-fitting mermaid gowns, hi-lo ensembles, embellished suits, and luxury sportswear casuals. Styled by Aaron Gomez, they wore jewelry by Charlie Lapson, shoes by Jojo Bragais, Minaudiere by Victoria's Craft USA, H&MUA by Daniel Cartagena & Reyna Khalil of Voodoo Make-up, Skin Care by South Main Rejuvenation Institute. Video production by Kyle Evan Miller and Ben Gampel. Second shooters for the shoot are Ana Wigmore and Joe Garcia.


"You have to figure out what you love in life." You've got to do what you love. He loves communicating with people through what he creates, but it also enhances their lives by giving them something that should bring joy and pleasure, especially for women with such high taste or discernment.


He is a member of the Advisory Board of Fullerton Community College Fashion Department and holds special lectures at California State University, Dominguez Hills, and Santa Monica College's Fashion Department.


Alexis Monsanto is the designer and founder of ALEXIS MONSANTO ATELIER, a fashion design studio in West Hollywood, California. He also devotes his time to non-profit organizations in Southern California like HRC, GLAAD, APLA, The Trevor Project, APAIT, and Project Angel Food, serving on their boards and committees and spearheading fundraising activities for the fight for equal rights for LGBTQ people.

Anna Gupta, Pola Rubis, Kristina Menissov, Alexis Monsanto Secret Garden Collection

Models (left to right): Kristina Menissov, Pola Rubis, Anna Gupta


He walks in his divine destiny, purpose, and power. His legacy endures.


Alexis Monsanto Interview

I had the great pleasure of interviewing Alexis Monsanto about his early beginnings and the life lessons that have shaped him into the man he is today.

Model: Pola Rubis


Sara Kil: What culinary memory from your youth resonates with you the most?


Alexis Monsanto: Because my mother was a great cook and my father made sure we were all seated at the family table, dinner was always my favorite meal growing up. My parents made sure that we all took part in the daily discussions when I was growing up in a small, dynamic family. My parents were always interested in every part of our lives.


SK: Are there any lessons from growing up that shaped who you are today?


AM: I learned the values of perseverance, hard work, determination, and passion from my parents. At the age of 20, my mother, who had grown up in poverty, became an orphan. She was the eldest of 14 children. She was a hard worker, sent herself to school, and finished her degree as a self-supporting working student. She taught me how to be highly tenacious and overcome challenges to accomplish my goals. She was enthusiastic and "hands-on" when she took care of her orchid garden; and oversaw the laborers in the mango orchard; and the rice fields, while she also held a key position in the local government unit of a nearby town.


SK: Tell us about your childhood in 3 words.


AM: Love, happiness, and family.


SK: What does self-care look like to you?


AM: I include stretching, breathing, and mindfulness exercises every morning. I also take care of my skin as well as my body. I eat healthy food and follow strict portion control. I walk at least 45 minutes a day, drink lots of water, and eat early, between 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.


SK: Who makes you laugh?


AM: Someone who is full of wit, tells silly jokes, and with animated companies. I have to admit that I also enjoy practical jokes.


SK: Can you tell me more about your dog, Bucko?


AM: My adorable golden retriever, Bucko, was an angel that filled me with happiness and unwavering devotion. He was a spoiled, overjoyed dog and acted puppylike. He went to the other side of the rainbow a few days before his birthday last March.

Kristina Menissov, Alexis Monsanto Secret Garden Collection

Model: Anna Gupta


SK: For whom and what would you like to prepare a meal?


AM: I've prepared dinner for many members of Hollywood's elite, but I enjoy cooking most for friends and family. For my friends at Palm Springs' Christmas dinner this year, I prepared a four-course Southeast Asian cuisine menu. For me, a luxury party is throwing a five-hour sit-down meal for 12 intriguing guests who converse and laugh about a variety of topics throughout the entire evening while also downing three bottles of champagne and ten bottles of red and white wine.


SK: What does it take to be called a fashion designer?


AM: It takes top-notch creativity, an eye for how to improve an idea, a good eye for how something fits on the body, a talent for color and style, stamina, and determination. It requires an "outside the box" thinker with the ability to focus on one idea or concept and multitask while being able to work well with others. A great designer can separate their own personal style from the style of the line they are designing, detach from their emotions, and design within the price point of the target market.


SK: Who are the up-and-coming designers that we should follow?


AM: The top 5 on my list are: 1. Harris Reed 2. Kenneth Ize 3. Thebe Magugu 4. Daniel W. Fletcher 5. Priya Ahluwalia


SK: What is your favorite fashion decade?


AM: I adored the 1960s' inventiveness. Even as a child, I remembered and admired Hollywood actresses like Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, and Bridget Bardot. They were drop-dead gorgeous in their evening gowns. Designers like Yves Saint Laurent introduced the Mondrian dress, and Oleg Cassini designed the dresses of Jacqueline Kennedy. Pillbox hats, gloves, A-line dresses, three-quarter sleeves, soft shoulders, polka-dot-printed fabrics, midi skirts, maxi dresses, moccasins, caftans, and ponchos were prevalent in the decade. All were elegant and very feminine.


SK: Can you tell me more about Project Angel Food and how you got involved?


AM: Project Angel Food is a non-profit organization that prepares and delivers healthy, medically tailored meals to feed people impacted by serious illnesses in Los Angeles. In March 2022, I produced a fashion show during LA Fashion Week at the Yamashiro Restaurant in Hollywood to benefit Project Angel Food. Additionally, I'm also a long-time volunteer in their kitchen and during their gala fundraisers.

Anna Gupta, Alexis Monsanto Secret Garden Collection

Model: Kristina Menissov


SK: What are your reasons for gratitude?


AM: I am appreciative of my good health as well as the adoration, encouragement, and kindness of friends and fans who value my work and contribute to the charity I care about most.


 

Credits

Fashion Designer: Alexis Monsanto

Alexis Monsanto is a global world-renowned Filipino-American fashion designer. He was raised in Cebu and discovered his talent for fashion design at a young age. His exceptional skills earned him multiple awards and an internship at a dress shop. He eventually moved to America, where he faced challenges but persevered through hard work and dedication. His passion for fashion led him to dress celebrities at various award shows and establish his own studio in West Hollywood. Alexis is a Renaissance artist who enjoys mentoring and helping young people achieve their dreams. He is highly regarded and appreciated by many.

Fashion Designer Alexis Monsanto

Writer: Sara Kil

Sara Kil lives in Orange County, CA. She is a writer, blogger, and teacher. Sara is a contributing writer and reporter for the Fullerton Observer. She is also a fashion journalist whose work can be found in Scarlet Leaf Review, Blue Guitar, and Blue Guitar Jr. magazine. She has been featured in VoyageLA twice.

Writer Sara Kil

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