Fashion

Exclusive interview: we speak to the designer behind H&M’s latest collaboration

Written by Harriet Davey

You can shop Lebanese fashion designer Sandra Mansour’s collection with H&M now. 

It’s finally here, H&M’s latest designer collaboration. And this year it’s Lebanese fashion designer Sandra Mansour’s turn to take the spotlight. The ‘Fleur du Soleil’ collection marks a milestone for H&M as the first Arabic designer to ever collaborate with the Swedish high street brand. Sandra started her own label in 2010 and is most known for her romantic, whimsical styles. If there’s one word to describe this collaboration  it would be ‘dreamy’. Every item is so perfectly thought out – based on Sandra’s signature ethereal vibe with layers of lace and tulle it also incorporates a youthful edge with hooded tops, oversized blazers and effortless printed T-shirts.

Sandra is in good company as the high street giants are no stranger to creating mass hysteria with sell-out collections and we can only predict this one will have the same effect. Kicking off the collaborations back in 2004 with Karl Lagerfeld, this was followed in 2005 by Stella McCartney’s edit fronted by supermodel Kate Moss. With 16 years of collaborations under its suitably stylish belt, H&M manages to pull in a string of esteemed designers to join forces with each and every year. We’ll never forget the statement Balmain drop in 2015 leading to eager shoppers camping outside stores, or last year’s Giambattista Valli collection which gave the lucky few who got their hands on it (including Kendal Jenner at the amfAR gala in Cannes) a hint of couture for a fraction of the price.

The collection with Sandra Mansour is about mixing luxe floaty, tulle and lace fabrics with more casual everyday pieces – the epitome of how to nail high/low day-to-day dressing.

In timeless, muted shades of monochrome and soft mushroom, the collection is topped off with lashings of golden jewellery – including earrings, rings and headbands all coming in at £9.99-£14.99. A hint of designer for under £20? We’re sold. 

This collection is of course aesthetically pleasing, bound to sell-out in record speed and of course affordable but we wanted to find out even more from the designer who announced the ‘emotional’ collection on her Instagram last month. 

The Stylist fashion team chatted to the lady herself – Sandra Mansour tells all. 

Hi Sandra, we’re so excited for your latest collection. Can you tell us how you tailored your usual designs to suit the high street?

We chose to use a neutral colour palette throughout which can be used forever and for any occasion. We worked with a lot of tulle and point d’esprit, playing with fabric and ruffles. I really wanted to bring the spirit and dreaminess of the brand to life for the collaboration.

Can you remember your first H&M memory? How does it feel to have a collaboration with the brand now? 

I have many, but there’s one specific one around 11 years ago that stands out to me. I was with my best friend in Paris and H&M had just launched its collaboration with Matthew Williamson. I remember thinking how amazing that would be. Fast forward 11 years and here we are – it’s a dream come true. 

Tell us about the starting point for this collection – where did you get your inspiration from?

It’s dedicated to my love of nature – in particular, sunflowers were a main inspiration behind this collection. Once we decided on that everything flowed organically. It was very poetic how this collaboration developed, our visions were aligned from the beginning. 

You’re the first Arabic designer to collaborate with H&M, what does that mean to you?

I’m exhilarated, thrilled and honoured. It’s an amazing thing to represent my country and region. 

Which piece are you most looking forward to wearing?

All of them! I really can’t choose. I think we did such a good job when creating this collection – each piece can be translated and worn from day-to-night. There are playful dresses, pretty skirts, beautiful shirts, a T-shirt, hoody, jacket, a beautiful embossed sunflower kaftan and amazing accessories. I personally love the entire collection!

How are you staying creative during Covid-19?

I’m reading a lot more and listening to music. I also started to paint – working with colours is always inspiring and it’s also giving me solace.

Thank you Sandra. We can’t wait to shop the collection – get it online and in selected stores from 6 August. 

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