THE ELISA SEDNAOUI FOUNDATION
It’s six PM in London and Elisa Sednaoui has just passed through customs. She was in Italy only three days ago, and now she’s off to Dubai for a Vogue Italia event. Over the phone, her deep voice seems all-knowing, exuding wisdom and grace while expertly injecting humor to downplay her world travels. She is only twenty-six, yet speaks five languages, has lived in three countries, and has grown up a fashion darling, working for Chanel and Giorgio Armani, among countless others.
Still so young, yet approaching the age at which the fashion industry often rinses its hands, Sednaoui has prepared herself for a future beyond portraits and couture. For the last three years, she has been co-directing a documentary which illustrates and humanizes the struggles of life in a small Egyptian village, a tale of love and coming to terms with one’s own identity, something Sednaoui knows well. “The hard part of being multicultural is that you feel like you don’t really belong anywhere. Sometimes I feel an outsider,” she says of her childhood split between Italy, Egypt, and France.
The film inspired Sednaoui to extend her reach, and most recently she has spearheaded a foundation to encourage children in the arts. The foundation began in Egypt because “that’s where I saw the most evident need of doing this work,” she explains. It aims to bring art and creativity into the lives of young people, something that Sednaoui found was slightly lacking in her own life. “There was a lot of creativity in our house, but I didn’t feel like I could pursue everything I wanted. I had responsibilities and I had to become financially independent.” She was able to parlay her fashion relationships into charitable support, and her current collaboration with her godfather, Christian Louboutin, gives one winner the chance to meet the two as a fundraising effort.
Sednaoui has plans to expand her foundation to Italy in 2015, but is currently busy raising her son: “You want to inspire your child to be driven, but mostly to understand that in order to obtain anything you need to work and you need to struggle and you need to fight.”
Rachel Ellison is a Los Angeles based writer with featured work in Bullett and Flaunt magazine, among others.