model mona tougaard wants to fuck shit up
i-D Contributing Editor Adesuwa jumps on the phone with model Mona Tougaard to talk boys, beers and getting stuck in an elevator with God.
Long days. Endless shows. Fitting after fitting after casting after casting. The modelling industry is a tough one, there’s no doubt about it. But an exciting one too. That’s why despite the workloads and the pressure, every season there’s still a crowd of young upstarts with boundless energy, keen to turn the industry on its head. Nobody sums up that inexhaustible energy, that breath of fresh air like 17-year-old Mona Tougaard. She’s walked for everyone and now she’s even on the front cover of i-D. Magic.
Mona navigates the fashion world with the finesse of a veteran, but don’t get it twisted, there’s still loads to learn. Luckily, there to impart some industry wisdom is supermodel – and brand new i-D Contributing Editor! – Adesuwa Aighewi. Since being discovered on campus at the University of Maryland, Adesuwa has wasted no time blazing a trail across the world’s fashion capitals. It’s lightyears away from her previous life – she was an intern! At NASA! – but Adesuwa isn’t one to fit into any kind of predetermined role. She writes, she directs, she’s full of joy and she works diligently to promote and preserve African culture. What we mean is: the girls are busy! And yet luckily, they managed to find time to sit down for a phone call. Mona is in California, on holiday. Adesuwa in Cote d’Ivoire shopping. We listened in to find out all their secrets.
Read Mona Tougaard's interview with Adesuwa below.
Adesuwa: Hey Mona!
Mona: Hey Adesuwa! Where are you right now?
I’m in Abidjan. Sorry, one second, I’m being yelled at. I’m getting fitted for a dress. There’s this proper African couture moment happening to me right now. They are talking French and I don’t understand. I’m trying to get them to make me a dress, but they’re saying I’m too skinny. They want to add this puff and fluff. I only like wearing boys clothes, I never wear girly clothes. I love a puffy dress! This sounds great for me. Get me one. How did you get into modelling?
I got scouted seven years ago, but I only really started doing it full time about two or three years ago. It’s such a closed off industry, you don’t know really know what it’s like until you really get into it. And I don’t like being told what to do. I don’t like being told shit.
I think it’s great that the world is finally acknowledging all these different black girls, especially in the industry, it was so needed.
In between getting scouted and going full time, it was like I was waiting for the industry to catch up. I was like ‘I’m just gonna be here’.
The industry is ready for us now.
I feel like every job I get, every show I book, I’m not just booking for myself but for all the other black girls too. But I really do think that a big part of being a model is about self love. Being confident in yourself. It’s not just about being pretty it’s about what you have to offer to the world. So Mona, you’re in the elevator with God and he’s like, ‘Yo! Mona! What’s up? Who are you?’ What are you going to tell him?
Oh man, I dunno, I think I’d say “I’m me.” I can only be myself. I’m Mona from a small town in Denmark.
This is for the cover of i-D magazine, this is iconic. This is your chance. Say what you got to say.
I’m so bad at stuff like this.
Wait what about if we had this time capsule, and we put in it all the stuff you cherished. Everything you love at this moment in your life. And we’re going to dig a hole, and bury it. And we’re going to dig it up in 10 years time. What are we going to put in it.
So what would you write in your letter?
It would say what I’m feeling right now. And maybe like, I dunno man! I think I would put a good beer in there for me to drink in 10 years time.
Are you even allowed to drink?
You can drink when you’re 16 in Denmark.
No way! Do you smoke too?
Smoking is my vice.
What is causing you to smoke? What ails do you have?
All my friends smoked, I tried it a couple of times, I mean I just started. I’m trying to quit. I’m on a Juul instead.
This is a trap! You’re gonna get addicted to the Juul instead. You’re gonna be like everyone with a Juul in their mouths 24/7 looking like a battery pack.
Every girl has a Juul now.
That thing is like a whole pack of cigarettes.
I’m trying to quit but I haven’t. I’m being a hypocrite but whatever. So let’s talk about the evils of the modelling world. What are you scared of?
I’m scared of these fake people! I’m trying to keep the people I like near me. I just listen to my heart, and my heart can tell me whether the people around me are good people or not. What advice have you got?
Stay away from promoters. They are evil. Only party at the end of fashion week. Not at the start. Oh wait, I remember, I last saw you at the Chanel show. Did you ever get to meet Karl?
I was so fucking sad when he died. It was literally a week before I did my Chanel fitting.
He was one of the best.
I wanted to meet him so badly.
Do you know who you should meet, Liya Kebede. She’s an Ethiopian supermodel. Google her! She’s been around. Dude, you need to link with her. She’s OG OG badass. She works with the UN. Anything you want to do, that’s her. That’s your role model right there.
Oh man I feel stupid I didn’t know her.
She’s super inspirational. She moves quiet, she’s not loud at all. She doesn’t boast about it. She does things to change things not for personal glory. She’s not like all these fake Instagram activist people.
They are so draining.
Wait you never actually told me what you would write in your letter to yourself.
I think I’d write about my dreams, about what I imagine the future will be like, what my life will be like. And then when I open that letter up, in like twenty years time, we can compare it. We can see what came true.
Do you think about the future much?
I always had a good feeling about the future — like is school going to work out? I dunno, I have a good feeling though. I feel like everything is going to be OK. I’m going to have a great life. A great career. And now I’m working, I didn’t know what I expected when I started modelling. This shit fucked me up!
What do you mean? It’s hard?
Before I started modelling I wanted to move to the country, get away from the city, have a big family, this great family, living in the countryside, relax, have a load of animals. That’s kind of my dream.
I’m into that. What do your family say?
My dad actually wants to buy an old farm for the whole family to live together on. I don’t know if I want that, I need to think about it.
When you got scouted, and you didn’t know whether you should do it or not. What would you tell that Mona, now that you’re this Mona?
I want to tell that Mona to fuck shit up. To shut the fuck up and do your thing and never quit. When, at first, I didn’t want to do it, I had it in my mind that I wasn’t ready, that I’d have to wait like four years till I was ready to do this, I thought I didn’t know anything then.
So Mona what’s the mic drop? What’s the big quote?
Oh boy, Ade!
Make it good! Make it good, man!
Be yourself. That’s all I got.
That’s good. Alright, Mona. Peace out. See you later.
Photography Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott
Fashion director Carlos Nazario
Hair Mustafa Yanaz at Art+Commerce for Matrix
Make-up Lauren Parsons at Art Partner
Nails Lauren Michelle Pires at D+V Management using CHANEL Le Vernis in Pure White and Pure Black and CHANEL La Crème Mai
Set design Miguel Bento at Streeters
Photography assistance Sinclair Jaspard Mandy, Ben Coppola and Hristo Hristov
Digital technicians Niccolo Pacilli and Marco Torri
Styling assistance Raymond Gee and Hugo Lavin
Make-up assistance Anastasia Hess, Paige Whiting and Chloe Palmer
Hair assistance Masayoshi Fujita
Set design assistance Amelia Stevens and Anne Sophie Keen
Production Leonard Cuinet-Petit and Madeline Jensen at Across Media Productions
Production assistance Jonny Faulkner, Ivano Pagnussat, Valentina Boteva and Rosie Ashley
Casting director for Mona Tougaard Samuel Ellis Scheinman for DMCASTING
Models Mona Tougaard at The Society. Bella Santucci and Losh Aje at Tide. Jordan Hemingway.
This article originally appeared on i-D UK.