“To say the least, this was a very exciting project for me,” muses Sandra Mansour, founder of her eponymous label, when asked about her dreamy, new campaign Eleven Minutes unveiled exclusively on Vogue.me today. “It was a medium I’ve wanted to do for a very long time. I worked with some of the most talented individuals to bring this to life,” she adds.
Teaming up with award-winning film directer Mounia Akl and creative director Laurent Saad, the Lebanese womenswear designer created 11, one-minute long videos shot in 11 separate locations in an effort to artfully visualize the woman she has in mind when creating her ultra-feminine pieces. “Me and Akl spoke and decided that we wanted to make something new and unique,” she reveals. “We have two very different skills and we wanted to combine them both to create the optimal expression of surrealism in both fashion and film.” This resulted in a cumulative series of puzzle-like scenarios brought together by captivating imagery, sounds, colors, and fashion, which took approximately eight-months to produce.
“We reinvented dresses specifically for this film,” says Mansour, who dipped into her Fall 2017 archive (Which is called Doux Rêves, or “Sweet Dreams”) to recreate the dazzling gowns handstitched with sequins, and feminine, tulle numbers — which she honed during a stint with Elie Saab— worn by the models as they paraded around against the backdrop of Lebanon’s deserted parking lots, wheat fields, and craggy Beqaa Valley throughout the subsequent clips. “For instance, one of the dresses worn by the actors in Minute 9, appears in the Fall 2017 collection in purple with multi-colored geometrical patterns, but I recreated it in a soft, powdery blue color palette.”
Many of these scenes were directly inspired by personal, real-life experiences that translated into filming them as abstract-like dreams. “Each video revolves around the uncontrollable subconscious and its power to create,” says Mansour.
Saad strategically came up with the idea to create 11 one-minute clips, rather than one, 11-minute video because he believes attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, so this makes it easier for viewers to absorb. Mansour adds “You have several dreams each night, and you tend to jump from one to another, this is why dreams tend to seem nonsensical and that’s what we wanted to reflect in Eleven Minutes.”
The Lebanese designer settled on the intuitive number 11 as a sort of ode to William Shakespeare. “Eleven Minutes is inspired by A Midsummer Nights Dream, by Shakespeare, which was produced by Vitagraph studios in 1909,” she notes. The play was also 11 minutes long. The titles given to each video are a direct riff on André Breton’s poems and books, as her own personal homage to her favorite author. For instance, Minute 02 titled “Trajectoire du Rêve” is based on the 1938 book by Breton, meanwhile, Minute 10 (“Les Pas Perdus”) is inspired by the writer’s debut collection of critical and polemical essays.
With Eleven Minutes, the designer proves in one swift move that she’s capable of even more than designing intricately-detailed, red carpet-worthy ensembles beloved by Soraya Bakhtair and Princess Ekaterina of Hanover (who actually wed in a Sandra Mansour bridal gown this summer.) However, Mansour, who was directly involved in each aspect of the film, credits a team of young Arab talent for helping manifest her dreams into reality. Collaborating with local filmmakers, composers, and colorists, including Jana Saleh, who composed the entire film score from scratch, and Belal Hibri who assigned the color schemes to make these clips as surreal as possible, the designer was able to dream up 11 artful, subsequent scenarios to represent the different facets (vibrant, bold, and elegant) of the Sandra Mansour woman.
In addition to the spell-binding new video campaign, the House of Mansour, which launched in 2010, has plenty to be excited about. “We are redesigning and expanding our Atelier in Beirut. We also have a new website on the way, as well as a Bridal and additional capsule collections.”
Mansour has also been expanding her label in Europe and the Middle East, and trunk shows with Moda Operandi have made her sought-after pieces available to woman worldwide, although she is adamant that her Lebanese roots will always play a significant role in her brand. “My heritage is a part of me, therefore, it is always indirectly referenced in all that I do. But since we target women of all nationalities and fashion has no boundaries, we remain global.”
Watch Eleven Minutes by Sandra Mansour, and directed by Mounia Akl, ahead.