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Bahraini Brand Monsoori’s Fall 2023 Couture Collection Explores Art Through Craft

Photo: Szilveszter Mako

Like a dazzling sunset, an exquisite, structured haut seems to capture the rays within its silk taffeta threads. Its golden hue evokes warmth, richness, and opulent couture. In all, it required 130 hours of craftsmanship by skilled petites mains. Meanwhile, a cascading, silk tulle gown hides between its skirts the secrets of patternmaking, fabric cutting, the assemblage of its layers, draping, hand-stitching, and elaborate beadwork. The garments are featured in what appear to be oil portraits from the Renaissance, but these romantic pictures, puissant with allure, are in fact images from Monsoori, a Bahraini couture brand led by founder Shaima Al Mansoori, to showcase its Fall 2023 collection.

Photo: Szilveszter Mako

“It was a time when womanly allure held an enigmatic charm, transcending convents and captivating hearts,” considers Al Mansoori of the epoch that serves as the backdrop to the latest collection. A symphony of classic hues – brilliant gold, midnight black, and verdant green – emerges to invite on a voyage through splendor, strength, nature, and hope. The couturier’s overarching aim is to remind that “authentic beauty transcends the confines of both time and space, inviting all to revel in the radiance of the inner self, and to celebrate the resplendence that lies within.”

Photo: Szilveszter Mako

A source of constant stimulus to the couturier, the European Renaissance marked the period from the Middle Ages to modernity and spanned the 15th and 16th centuries. Beginning in Florence, it was a cultural movement that saw realism and humanism infused in thought and art. Paintings were treated as windows into space; light and shadow and human anatomy were meticulously studied. Al Mansoori is well-versed in the Renaissance masters. She cites Giovanni de Paolo as a favored artist “because he possesses a remarkable ability to infuse his canvases with life. Through his deft brushstrokes, you get to explore a world where time and space dissolve. Most of his paintings offer a glimpse of a place where dreams and reality intertwine harmoniously.” She mentions Masolino da Panicale, whose “skilled brushwork and a rich color palette create scenes of breathtaking beauty.” While Masaccio “wove threads of perspective, anatomy, and light, infusing his subjects with pulsating life.”

Photo: Szilveszter Mako

Alike phrases can be said of this collection, which the designer describes with expression and eloquence, rare in this emoji-driven day and age. Al Mansoori explains that she spends time deliberately away from social media, preferring to immerse her mind in vintage literature and occasional visits to her favorite European Renaissance museums, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, and the National Museum of Palazzo Venezia. This past summer, she isolated herself in the countryside with the company of family and close friends. She also continued to hone her craft, practicing the art of dart manipulation techniques.

Al Mansoori began her foray into fashion at 18, embarking on a self-taught journey as a designer. “There were humble beginnings,” she recalls, “refining my skills through draping on mannequins and exploring the art of illustration and silk painting. Gradually, I delved into the world of basic tailoring techniques, allowing my creativity to flourish.”

Photo: Szilveszter Mako

Soon after, she found herself curating small collections and she founded her brand in 2006. Two years later, the opportunity arose to showcase Monsoori internationally at the Altaroma fashion week. “This pivotal moment fueled my determination to deepen my knowledge and enhance my skills,” she states. Consequently, Al Mansoori enrolled at the London College of Fashion, embarking on a professional pursuit of her passion. Today, her designs are worn internationally by celebrities such as Beyoncé, Ariana Grande, and Julia Roberts.

“The world of fashion design beckoned me,” she says. “My deep affinity for unique fabrics and textiles blossomed through travels across diverse lands. The rich tapestry of history woven within each thread resonated with me profoundly, igniting a passion for the stories behind the craftsmanship. It is this intricate interplay of skill and accompanying historical narrative that shaped my journey, resonating within me synonymously.”

Originally published in the September 2023 issue of Vogue Arabia

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