Lebanese designer Sandra Mansour has always had this feeling that she “needed” to create. Although Mansour originally wanted to be a painter, a coincidental collaboration with Elie Saab led her to her true passion in life: Design. “It was a revelation because I could draw and wear [my creations] at the same time,” Mansour shared with Vogue Arabia. A decade later, her sartorial journey that “started from nothing” continues to flourish with her fall/winter 20-21 collection she unveiled in Paris earlier this week.
Inspired by the works of French writer J.H. Louwyck and Spanish painter Antoni Tapies, Mansour’s latest ready-to-wear pieces encapsulate the historic reverence of these two European creators while embedding the contemporary feminine ethos of the Arab label.
Named “Ode à la lumière”, the collection’s title is based on Louwyck’s poem she found in the book Il Neige Des Merveilles. “It really resonated because this season I feel is all about having this warm light and hope,” Mansour explained. Meanwhile, Tapies’ often use of earth tones blended with pastel hues inspired the palette of Mansour’s FW20 designs as did his abstract techniques of creating depth. Playing with fabrics, textures, and tonality—especially in her signature ruffled dresses and kaftans—Mansour champions silk, taffeta, organza, and velvet this season, inviting the wearer to discover each hand-embroidered layer with every twist and twirl.
For Mansour, the DNA of her brand lies in three factors: “I like to have a simple silhouette, strong shoulders, and beautiful fabric.” Although it may sound straightforward, the complexity lies in understanding how they can be integrated to embody the “confident” presence of a woman who touts clothing that is both “very feminine and very structured”.
Although Mansour’s eponymous label is available all around the Middle East and the Western world—from the US-located Moda Operandi and UK’s Harrod’s to the UAE’s Harvey Nichols—everything is made inhouse at the Beirut-based atelier, giving Mansour complete control over the creative process to ensure each piece reflects this unwavering confidence.
“We have our own tailors where we really create from the sketch, we work with our pattern maker to develop the silhouette, and then we distribute to our own tailors. What is amazing is that we try each dress to see how it feels on the body. We have a lot of control actually on the product because we see every step of it, so if there’s a little something that’s bothering us, we can immediately fix it.”
In a time where the world seems to be engulfed in fear and darkness, Mansour’s collection is “an ode to light” that heralds the arrival of a luminous sartorial era. “This collection was birthed in trying times to inspire us to move forward through the process of creation—most importantly, things that can add a little radiance into one’s life.”