Hello everyone. This is my first post of what I hope will be many in the WomenStuff/MenStuff blog, where I will be interviewing the designers in both groups.
I have in my time as writer in SL had the opportunity to interview quite a number of designers and as a group within the SL community, fashion designers are a busy bunch but then we get to reap the rewards of their industriousness don’t we …. On the whole I have found them to be great people. Granted there are a few who have serious ego issues but then that is to be found in all parts of society.
Mohna Lisa he of the Mohna Lisa Couture brand is not one of those with ego issues, but he very definitely falls into the busy category!!
His store is a pure delight to behold and from a female perspective an absolute wonderland of utter gorgeousness (oh and that kind of includes the man himself). This man knows how to make a lady feel really sexy but with class.
I eventually managed to pin Mohna down (ok not literally … that’s just wishful thinking)and he generously agreed to have a chat.
It turns out that this extraordinarily talented man from down-under was a bit of a car junkie in his RL. He has gone from being an automotive engineering test driver and evaluator of cars in RL to pioneering the now synonymous MLC glitter texture, the trademark of MLC gowns in SL.
I asked Mohna what initially brought him to SL to which he replied “I was a Sales and Marketing Executive in an American multinational Company working in Asia Pacific. Due to extensive international travel I started hitting SL about 5.5 years ago, as a way to entertain myself during moments of late night lack of sleep due to jet lag. About 2 years ago, in my 40’s, I took an early retirement package, and switched to part time contract work…. enabling me to focus and dedicate more of my time in world to MLC.”
Mohna says that SL fashion means different things to different people be it modeling, agency owners, designers, etc,. “The same scenario with all of us seeking fulfillment with different objectives. For me it’s simply; to fulfill my objectives of wanting to make women and men feel and look wonderful in the formal scene with my inspirations and to help fulfill other peoples SL fashion objectives, by providing business and or employment for all those involved in the fashion world, be it Agencies, models, photographers, fashion writers, etc. “
He described the Second Life fashion scene from a business perspective as not being much different to the RL fashion scene, highly dynamic, full of talent, highly competitive, a lot of fun and hard work enjoyed by all who participate and from a creator’s/artist’s perspective, he says there are a lot of amazing and talented creators. He said that the public are fortunate to enjoy such quality of talent at a low cost in world vs. RL currency.
Mohna told me that he got into the world of fashion design a few years back when he wanted to get women out of those bell shaped gowns and see them in more sensual, sexy but elegant formal wear. Cheekily he quipped “Being a bloke, I guess it started out with me being purely selfish at wanting to see more cleavage and legs.” Stubbornly he refused to divulge what the first article of clothing that he designed was, fobbing me off he said “I know I can speak on behalf of most creators when I say, we never like to talk about that very first piece, :P”
Mohna went on to tell me that the time it took him to construct a piece depended on the outfit. He explained “I am quite meticulous and do a lot of detailed work, so it does take me probably longer than it should, considering how reasonable my prices are for the level of detail & quality that goes into an outfit. I feel that when RL dollars are spent on an item, no matter the amount, then customers should receive the very best you can offer, so I start each piece from scratch and never cut corners. “
And now dear readers, the process used by a super talented designer to design and realize a piece of SL clothing….
“1. can’t sleep (as usual)
2. Start thinking of some ideas because I can’t sleep
3. Turn the ideas into visions and then get up during the night and sketch them down, because I can’t sleep
4. Get onto it the next day tired after lack of sleep, get RL out of the way and start playing with vision concepts inclusive of texture, styling and prim work, this part usually takes the most time, sometimes days because of SL constraints of what and how design/prim aspects work together, or textures and colors etc.
5. Concept comes together and I am happy with the results fulfilling my vision and I make it for sale,
6. Concept does not come together and does not meet my vision, so I delete it and go back to step 2 and start over. :)”
Now you know how his mind works, well about some things that is!
I asked Mohna what he would say his biggest accomplishment as a designer was, to which he replied “My biggest accomplishment and what inspires me every day to work hard are my loyal customer following who admire and enjoy my work.”
He defines his personal style as classy, sexy formal wear that highlights a woman’s shape in the most elegant way, or a man’s physique with a strong stylish formal look and the style his line exemplifies “For women… Breasts, Breasts, Breasts, then butts and legs… Wait, can I say that here?”
He finds inspiration from everywhere, be it latest looks in RL from D&G, Valentino, Elie Saab right through to what the sexy woman at the bar is wearing ….
Mohna’s favourite colours to work with are the classic colours for women, black, red, gold, and white, depending on the gown. He said “these colors work with most styles, skins and shapes and always sell well. However, I do open my repertoire to blues pinks etc. to accommodate all tastes. For men it’s mainly black and grey, because I specialize mainly in formal wear, and those colors work best with my formal styles.”
I asked Mohna if he had a preference in designing male vs. female designs, he stated “both genders in designs have their challenges and enjoyment. Having both to work with allows me to remain dynamic and never get bored.”
His advice to aspiring SL fashion designers is that it depends on how far they want to take their designing as a business, as some like to do it for self-gratification, as a form of expressing creativity, whilst others want to do it for creativity and a means of RL income. He commented “If the designer is the latter, then it’s important that you are very passionate about what you are doing. You will need to strike a balance between the creative and the business… because you need both to succeed…. in other words your strong focus on sales and marketing as well as the quality product.”
Mohna considers himself a businessman who creates and sells his art to a target market segment with the aim being to keeping his customers happy. He ensures he keeps the latest designs coming and continues to maintain the highest level of customer service possible.
Being the nosy parker that I am (not a journalist virtual or otherwise for nothing you know) I wanted to know how on earth he landed up with the name Mohna Lisa. Good humoredly he told me “This Brand was started out by two of us, my lady friend and a business colleague at the time and I a few years back. Both of us working in RL and doing it part time. (She left a while back due to RL work). We had both been big fans of the Louvre in Paris, having been there many times, where such priceless works of art including the beautiful Mona Lisa are on display. So when the last name “Lisa” came up on the LL new resident listing, we snapped it up, Mona Lisa wastaken, so we settled on Mohna Lisa.”
Ivy Maverick, as I have previously written is undoubtedly the queen of the hunt in Second Life and her MenStuff/WomenStuff groups have proven to be phenomenally successful for the participating designers and a great community builder for the hunters themselves. I asked Mohna for his comments with regard to the groups, “It’s a good symbiotic relationship, where the creator makes available a gift and a sample of their design to a specific group that is interested, and enjoys the fun in finding it. The creator enjoys the traffic; the group members enjoy the free gift. Evidently a Win/ Win scenario. I personally enjoy making free gifts from scratch and enjoy making items that vary outside my repertoire of formal wear… for instance for the last men’s hunt item I made a leather bikers outfit complete with boots and gloves…. which I modeled from my own RL bike leathers.. and got great feedback on that piece.. a nice change from the formal….”
So there we have it folks, some insight into who the enigmatic man behind the glamorous Mohna Lisa Couture brand is.
“Where is the X rated bit?” I hear you ask, lol, well now that would be telling wouldn’t it, nudge, nudge, wink, wink.