Shaima Al Mansoori is a name you may have gotten acquainted with recently. That’s because she’s one of the most auspicious Bahraini designers around at the moment and Eva Longoria loves her too. We chat with Shaima about Monsoori and how she sees Bahrain’s fashion future…
How did you get into designing?
It all started with art. I’ve been interested in it from an early age but we had very limited resources at school. All we had was glue, paper, water colours and some crayons. Through my travels with my family however, I started to collect different things such as canvasses, oil paints, sponges – many things that helped me develop my art skills. With time I started using fabric and that’s when I started painting on it via silk painting. As I continued I wanted to educate myself more about silk itself as it comes in different types, forms and colours. I realised at the time that I liked the way it spoke back to me and I loved the way it executed itself on any of my art pieces. No doubt my love for painting on canvases using oil colours taught me to combine colour and reflect my vision. When I started working with fabric, it made me more daring and passionate. I feel it really speaks to the audience as well. And at that time when I was finding my way, my mum happened to have a small atelier that used to have tonnes of fabrics, catalogues and machines – everything any designer would love to have. My love of art pushed me forward to learn about the world of colour and fabric. I’ve always wanted to explore more and push the barriers and start something new. Every time I design something or someone wears my designs I just feel there’s a connection and a positive feeling.
What are your collections all about?
The collections are usually reflections of nature as it changes by season. You see a lot of different spring/ summer flowers in our SS collection and in our FW collections you see a lot of dark blues to reflect the ocean and velvets that reflect those amazing dark and cold winter nights. Every collection stems from a beautiful memory I have during that season. Sometimes it’s a memory from a trip or it’s a memory related to a feeling I had when reading a book. My pieces are very European; I’m mainly inspired by the memories I have during my time spent in England while studying fashion – at that time I was really connected to nature – those beautiful, richly coloured English flowers and leaves. Those prints stain your mind and haunt you until you make them come to life. My pieces are very much my own expression and language.
Bahrain has come a long way in the fashion world. What do you think the future holds?
Bahrain is growing and has been exposed to the world of fashion, especially in the past five years. A lot of bloggers and fashion designers have emerged, not forgetting the artists too, which has made Bahrain take fashion very seriously. I think Bahrain really encourages its heritage to its people and that’s why we saw a lot of our cultural fashion spread across our media. Nowadays Bahrain has finally embraced the world of fashion in a different way and its really developed itself. Now every season local designers surprise us with their new work and vision as there’s more competition. If we all give and show our best to Bahrain in this way, our country will have a stronger future.
Where has Monsoori taken you and what has been the success outside the island?
It’s taken me to many places! I travel more whether I like it or not and it’s helped me grow my inspiration and it took me to a lot of countries and meet a lot of people and it became my lifestyle. It’s had such a great impact on me and allowed me to become who I am today. We’ve had many successes outside the island namely our red carpet appearances. At the Cannes Film Festival, one of the most prestigious events that I personally love and wait for every year since I was a teenager, we have showcased three stunning pieces on the red carpet. We’ve also worked with actress, Eva Longoria outside the island and we’ve worked together to achieve amazing goals that the global gift foundation helped us to reach – which has allowed us to represent our country and where we come from and who we really are.
What or who motivates you the most?
My family and my co-workers. I love my team and they always motivate me to work harder and do better. They surprised me with how committed they are with their work and how much they take it seriously – day and night – to execute my vision. The team spirit and family love that we have in the house of Monsoori that really keeps me motivated day by day.
Do you have any Bahrain based projects in the pipeline at the moment?
Yes! We are opening our boutique for the first time in Bahrain – we used to operate and communicate via our website but now we have decided to create a solid platform for Monsoori in our home town for women to try our pieces and get to know our brand with a closer perspective. We also have another project going on in the meantime which is giving our clients a look into the world of Monsoori. We are working on a photoshoot right now that seeks to capture these amazing moments we have during our day-to-day process in our fashion studio, throughout our design centre and the house of Monsoori. We have used local talents to showcase the warmth and natural beauty of this family in its own cocoon.