With a resume that crosses the boundaries of film and fashion, a reserved spot on every best-dressed list and a profile that keeps on rising, Elisa Sednaoui is the official girl of the moment. The Egyptian-Italian beauty is everywhere: from the pages of Vogue Italia to the jury of the Paris film festival, and her sophisticated allure has captured the attention of Karl Lagerfeld (who cast her in his resort film) and Diane von Furstenberg. MDC caught up with Elisa to find out more about the young lady everyone is talking about.
MDC- How did you start modeling? Where were you discovered?
ELISA: Well I think it was destiny, like many things in my life. My mother was a model, an editor and an agent for a while, so when I was younger I used to go to castings with her all the time, first on her shoulders, then by the hand. I was always looking at books, helping her out with taking measurements of models; I remember the afternoons we would spend in front of the TV, because she would tape all of the girls, so we would go through all of the videos and I think that was a big lesson for me.
I started when I was thirteen: I went to a casting, I was with her and we went to an agency in Paris and someone turned and looked at me and said ‘well why don’t you try?’ So I started, but I was serious, I think I was too serious – it was very important for me to finish high school so I didn’t do it full time until I was eighteen. I think for this business either you give yourself full time, completely and entirely or you will not get very far. It was only when I was eighteen that I started modeling full time between Paris and London and then I came to New York on a modeling job. I fell in love with the city right away so I decided to move here.
Elisa talks about her whirlwind year and what it is like to collaborate with the greats.
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A still from Bus Palladium
MDC-As someone who appreciates collaboration, how do you feel about the way things are for models nowadays. A lot of times girls are made to feel like they can’t contribute to the shoot; just show up and don’t rock the boat.
ELISA: Exactly, show up, shut up, don’t complain about anything, don’t be a pain. I remember reading an interview that I loved from Natalia Vodianova that said, “I’m kind of a pain, and one can’t stop me from saying what I’m thinking and people who book me know what they are booking me for and I love it!” That is the way things should be on set; each person is an important part of the team.
Elisa and Baptiste Giabiconi for Numero by Karl Lagerfeld
MDC: Tell us a bit about being on the jury for the Paris Film Festival.
ELISA: I was surprised that they would ask me; I guess they wanted a young voice, but I was honored and flattered to be able to spend eleven days with them. I mean, what more could I ask for honestly, getting to be with people like Tilda Swinton! Tilda is one of the women I aspire to be like, she is very simple but there is an intensity and something intimidating behind her simplicity. I feel grateful to be in a position where I can meet people like that and have discussions with them, I am looking forward to doing even more things like this.
MDC- You said Tilda is the kind of woman that you aspire to be like one day, you also mentioned Diane Von Furstenberg as another inspiration, where do you see yourself in a few years?
ELISA: I have my goals in my head, but it’s very difficult to say exactly where I will be. I have never thought ‘Oh, in six months I have to be here and if I’m not here forget it’-I don’t see life that way. In this business, things are not tangible; there are very few business that are tangible, modeling and acting are businesses where you can’t only give yourself one year and give up. It is all so fragile and about being in the right place at the right moment and being the right person they were looking for; you can’t give it a time limit and complain. What I wish is to be able to continue to have the desire to create, and even if I don’t have the desire, to at least be able to have my family and see my children grow and enjoy being a mother and a wife. What’s important to me is family; family is the biggest creation and the biggest gift you can give is life.