Exclusive: 11 Minutes with Sandra Mansour in Film, Fashion & Beyond
“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.
The New-Wave Way to Wear 80s Party Apparel
“Power dress to a synth-heavy soundtrack – the 80s are back,” declares the fashion desk in Vogue Arabia’s December issue. Rethink the power shoulder for party season because the major fashion houses have supersized their silhouettes and gone back to the future with polka dots and super sparkly creations destined for the dance floor.
Ignite the sartorial party in your wardrobe now with a Vogue shoot that’ll prompt your style extrovert to take an outing.
Model: Liz Kennedy
Photography: Mann at Things by People
Styling: Claire Carruthers
Makeup: Toni Malt at Things by People
Hair: Pablo Kuemin at Things by People
Film: Jullz Bek
Related Read: How to wear head-to-toe metallics
Bahraini Designer Lulwa Al Amin on Her New Digital Approach
Since launching her e-commerce platform in May 2017, Bahraini designer Lulwa Al Amin has filled her online store with bold new collections, relocated from London back to Bahrain, and created a unique space for creative collaboration. Using the concept of oscillating ‘window displays’ from her very own digital universe, the designer conceptualizes unique stories with artists and emerging names from the region and beyond. Naturally, these projects are plugged into new collections from her Lulu Al Amin brand and showcases the designer’s sartorial whimsy in a range of different mediums: photography, film, and even baking.
“The change in the digital world made it no longer necessary for brands to be based in a fashion capital,” Al Amin tells Vogue Arabia. Indeed the digital world has changed the landscape for most major brands, enabling more visibility for emerging labels and requiring a dialogue between storied houses and the customer, in an unprecedented way. Early adopters to social media platforms, such as Topshop Unique and Burberry, have found digital solutions for retaining the interest of its clientele and closing the waiting list for collection drops in store with see-now-buy-now fresh from the runway.
A pillar of Burberry’s new digital initiative, Instagram is the brand’s window display to the world. American-Palestinian models and siblings, Gigi and Anwar Hadid model in the new campaign for the British brand. @Burberry | Instagram
With the dawn of the digital age, customers want to buy into the lifestyle of the brand, peek behind the once closed doors of the maisons, relate to the ethos of the company in a sequence of Snapchats, and adore the designers at the helm. Gucci‘s Alessandro Michele is a classic case in point. Since his appointment in 2015, the design maestro and his 204K of Instagram followers and 16+million brand followers have created a cultural stratosphere of all things Gucci–from homeware to travel apps, fur-lined Princetown slippers, and oversized jewel-encrusted sunglasses. Gucci enjoyed a 21% rise in sales in the fourth quarter of 2016 with over 4.3 million euros being made for the Kering Group’s biggest name. Gucci’s traction on social media is a driving force behind its success.
The Italian brand showcases its new collections and diffusion projects via its @Gucci Instagram account.
Instagram has also given a platform for regional designers, Al Amin reflects. “Most industry professionals and customers focused on international designers rather than supporting regional ones. However with social media, this has all changed. It exposed Middle Eastern designers and [regional] styles to a worldwide audience.” With her digital-first ethos now in place, Al Amin’s approach is not just focused on getting the collection spot-on, but also considers how to make it resonate with her audience, and indeed broaden her customer base.
Social platforms have proven to be a viable source of market research for Al Amin. “I learned that most customers loved my clothing, but they would only use them for special occasions due to the delicate textiles I was using and the higher prices. They wanted everyday pieces in my prints that required easier care at a reasonable cost. That was when Lulu Al Amin was born.” The brand’s diffusion line is now available via its online store but in the beginning the designer launched it at a pop-up event. “During the first 15 minutes I sold out almost 70% of the collection. Social media allowed me to interact with my clients and deliver to them what they wanted. The next step was to make my brand available to my worldwide clientele. A digital store was the answer.”
The Bahraini designer is uniquely placed to bridge a gap between East and West aesthetics with her laissez-faire flair. Al Amin’s fashion CV includes working with Matthew Williamson and Browns and graduating from the highly-reputed Central Saint Martins. Now, the designer enlists people in her social orbit to reinterpret her designs with art, photography, and film projects. Dubai-based photographer Mashael Al Saie and Reem Fakhro of Bakery Blissful Temptations were the first to join the Lulwa Al Amin ‘window displays.’ Al Amin’s sister Maryam joins the fold this week with a short video that explores the high summer Lulu Al Amin collection. “Maryam has always had a love for theater. It was interesting to see how my collection inspired her to create the most magical setting,” Al Amin tells Vogue Arabia. “I have a long list of talents I want to work with, and I look forward to introducing them to my customers and the world.” Watch the video collaboration above.
Lulu Al Amin is available online via Lulwaalamin.com
Inside the Issue: The Future-Proof Way to ‘Pretty Makeup’
In the December issue, soft rose hues get a tough makeover with potent jewels in ruby, diamond, and gold. Model Blanca Padilla wears a sequence of striking new-season accessories with head-turning make-up looks that are at the bleeding edge of cool for the new year ahead. Photographed by Erez Sabag and styled by Anya Ziourova, consider this shoot your quick-fire masterclass on what to wear now.
Model: Blanca Padilla
Director & Photographer: Erez Sabag
Beauty Editor: Anya Ziourova
Camera & Editing: Daniel Kaijzer
Make-up: Georgina Billington
Hair: Fernando Torrent
Nails: Julie Kandalec
Producer: Marcus Donates
Color Grading: Erez Sabag Studio
Wardrobe Assistant: Stefaniya Chekalina
Digital Tech: John Spyrou
Location: Erez Sabag Studio
Related Read: Step inside the world of Vogue Arabia
Zac Efron on His First Fragrance, Memories, and Wanderlust
Zac Efron made his Middle East debut on March 31 with an appearance at the Dubai Mall’s Paris Gallery, followed by a lavish party at Hai D3 to celebrate the launch of Hugo Boss Hugo Iced. The Baywatch actor is the face of the new fragrance – Vogue Arabia caught up with him to discuss the first fragrance he ever owned (spoiler alert: it’s not a cologne,) favorite memories, and his wanderlust.