Elisa Jimenez was born in El Paso, Texas, in 1965. She is the daughter of sculptor Luis Jiménez and graphic designer Vicky Balcou. By the age of five, she was sewing doll clothes and fixing her own hems.
She attended the University of Texas at El Paso where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a minor in anthropology. She went on to earn a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Arizona.
She is an interdisciplinary artist, primarily in fashion design but also including writing, drawing, painting, performance art, and art installation. Her designs have been shown for years at the Holly Solomon Gallery in New York.
She started her "Hunger World" line of clothes in 1996. In the beginning, she made clothes only for herself and her friends, but when Vogue started to write about her, she found herself making for others and earning money.
In 1999, she started selling clothes from a Soho boutique Kirna Zabete, where owner Sarah Hailes had to remind her to put labels on her garments. She signs them backwards, so that they can only be read in a mirror.
Time magazine published a full page on her, in February, 2001.
The Designer debut show at New York's Fall 2001 fashion week, showed Jiminez's designs. Fashion Wire Daily publication said "Jiminez stole the show with her not-of-this-world clothes."
Jimenez's wild sexy, slashy designs include tea-soaked dresses with exposed seams, tops with disconnected sleeves and thermal pants with burned hems. The garments seem to embody a revolutionary spirit taking over the catwalk. Her clothes are not for the faint of heart with her trademark exposed seams and jagged edges.
In September 2001 Elsa was all ready to present her Fall 2002 collection, when the Terrorist attack took place in New York. Her arrangements were cancelled. However Vogue helped with the finances, and Carolina Herrara lent her 7th Avenue showroom, so Elsa Jimenez and 10 other young designers put on a show called "An American Way" to show their collections.
She has worked for a number of actors, musicians, films and television programs, including: Melissa Auf der Maur, Cher for her Believe album, Jennifer Connelly for her character in Requiem for a Dream, Marisa Tomei, Courtney Love, Sarah Jessica Parker, Sex and the City, Pink, Cameron Diaz, and art photographer Cindy Sherman. Jimenez was invited to be in the Barbican Gallery's exhibit and book Rapture: Art and Fashion Since the 1970s, curated by Chris Townsend of London.
In 2007 Jimenez was a contestant on the fourth season of Project Runway, a reality show on Bravo in which designers compete against each other in various fashion challenges to win $100,000 to create their own fashion line, among other prizes. Jimenez had been picked to appear on the first season of the show but opted out to avoid separating from her young daughter and because of a scheduling conflict.
Jimenez was eliminated in the show's sixth episode.
In a Project Runway testimonial, Jimenez disclosed that she was the victim of a motor-vehicle impact as a pedestrian. She was hit by a Porsche and cracked her skull open "3, almost four inches". She obviously made a significant recovery.