ELLE magazines across the globe searched for the Custo Barcelona babe and found a bevy of beauties perfect for an exotic photoshoot.

The Mayan Riviera in Mexico proved to be the perfect idyllic backdrop to showcase the unique and colourful design confections of the label. All winners — who had to submit a letter stating why they believed they were the Custo Barcelona woman — stayed at the exclusive seaside resort, Iberostar Paraiso.

ELLE Online catches up with ELLE Canada’s winner, Ottawa-based Mona Houri, on the experience of being a first time model for a chic brand.

Q: How did you hear about the ELLE Custo Barcelona contest?

A: I was reading my ELLE Canada magazine and I was flipping through the pages when I saw the contest for girls to send in a letter and pictures on why they were the best Custo Barcelona woman. I’ve never won a contest in my life and really didn’t think this would pan out the way it did. But several weeks afterwards I received a call from ELLE Canada and I had won! Before I knew it, I was on a flight to Mexico.

Q: What did your winning letter say?

A: It was rather simple — I just spoke about my dreams and aspirations and what I wanted to do in my future. I am a recent Communications grad from Ottawa University and am now looking to puruse a career in Public Relations. I volunteer for a community association in the city and work with kids. I love it.

Q: What countries participated in this photo shoot?

A: There were girls from all over the world: Myself (Canada), the United States, Spain, Portugal, France, Korea, Japan, Italy, Greece, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Click here to view images of other winners.Q: Did you get to decide what clothes you were going to wear?

A: No, we had the help of a stylist to choose the outfits we were going to wear for the shoot. Every girl got to wear two outfits. We searched through the Custo Barcelona catalogue which had their recent runway shots in them and chose the looks straight off of the catwalk! I couldn’t believe that I would be wearing the same outfits that an experienced, famous model wore for their show!

Q: Was it a strange feeling having people fawn all over you with the hair, makeup, clothes selection etc?

A: Yes, that was fun! My hair was done by a Redken stylist and the makeup was from Bobbi Brown. I have to admit that it was hard for me to understand the spanish, but I learned as quickly as I could! Everyone at the shoot was so friendly. Even though I was nervous, I felt completely at ease. It was all very fast — Everything had to be perfectly tucked in and looking right. I have to say it’s different having someone dress you.

Q: What was your favourite look?

A: I got to wear these gorgeous wool trousers that rode low on my hips and flared out at the bottom. I wore that with a beautiful blouse and creamy pink argyle cropped sweater. An amazing outfit for the winter season.

Q: Can you relate any funny stories while you were doing the shoot?

A: The 40 degree heat was unbearable, especially since we were wearing fall clothes. I was exhausted by the end of it! My pants were so unbelievably long, since they were worn by an actual model, so I kept tripping everywhere. That coupled with the high platform boots I had to wear, I almost didn’t make it.

Q: Were you nervous at all once the camera started snapping?

A: At first, yes. My heart was racing so fast. How do you pose? I had no idea. The photographer kept telling me that I had to get into character and “act”, so I really got into it. Luckily I’ve studied drama in the past, so it really helped.

Q: How do you define your own style compared to the looks you wore from Custo Barcelona?

A: I’m all about comfort — Jeans and a t-shirt. The clothes from Custo Barcelona were so easy to wear and yet they were compleltely different from anything I’ve worn before.

Q: What was your favourite part of the whole experience?

A: Meeting all the girls from all over. It was so great to learn about their cultures and interact with them. I’ve made good friends and now, depending on where my travels take me, I’ve got places to stay all over the world!

Q: So is modelling now in the cards for you?

A: Possibly. If it’s anything like this, I’d love to try it out. I love the fashion industry, what woman doesn’t!

Click here to view images of other winners

Special thanks to:
Photographer: Luca Nicolao
Stylist: Celine De Selva
HairDresser for Redken: Coke Lopez
Make Up Artist for Bobbi Brown: Javier Montenegro.
Click here to view the hot fashion shoot!