Joy of Clothes interviews Omar Mansoor on his passion for ” Haute-Couture” design!

I had the pleasure of interviewing Omar Mansoor on behalf of Joy of Clothes, who is one of the few “Haute Couture Designer ” in London whose designs are as well ” MADE IN THE UK”.

Real couturiers in London are an endangered species, so to find one not just in business but flourishing and expanding is something to be celebrated.  We will talk with Omar Mansoor, who is designing properly constructed, traditional, handmade couture. For him word-of-mouth has proved the most potent tool in gaining new clients and his customers now come, as he says, “from all continents and are all ages, literally from 17 to 70”.

He got his big break when Her Excellency Sheikha Mayassa Al-Thani, the Princess of Qatar, fell in love with his work, and since then he has gone from strength to strength, with BBC’s Susanna Reid wearing his designs to Oscar’s red-carpet events. He’s the only couturier who is doing a regular exclusive collection for Royal Ascot every year since 2010.

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Q: In older days, the cream of English, American and French society use to trip off to Paris for their elegant gowns. 
It’s true that in Victorian times, British women use to buy Paris gowns and keep them away for 2 years, as they were too fashionable for the prevailing time  but now Couture is not about Paris anymore, for example Armani Prive’ goes to seven cities for sale.Couture in the old days used to be about small salons having wonderful shows, although now Paris houses may put on quite spectacular displays, but they’re really about selling perfume, whereas in London we’re small and we offer a devoted, personal service in less formal atmosphere and apart from anything else, we charge a fraction of the price for equally well-made special pieces of clothing as compare to Paris couturiers.

Q: In 1946, there were 106 official” Haute-Couture “houses in Paris; today there are just 11.So is the market of Couture contracting? 

The art of couture is more relevant than ever as everyone buys luxury. People want something special, one-off.. The rapid rise of clients from emerging economies that now demand, and can afford, individual and exquisitely crafted outfits, are oversubscribing order books at the remaining “Haute couture houses”. Whether they come from China, Nigeria or Kazakhstan, they are very discerning and sophisticated with a real appreciation of handcraft. They are looking for unique, individually made items as an expression of luxury.

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Our business is always keeps us on our toes. New people come along as others bow out. It could be a woman whose husband has become a CEO or She had a dividend. There will always be the client who needs a dress for a special occasion, as mother of the bride or for a significant anniversary. There are also the women who love having something made for her that fits, flatters and feels fabulous. And then there are others who just can’t be bothered to shop and rely on us to create some excitement each season for their wardrobe. Many of clients now come via personal shoppers and stylists to get a new or specific look for their wardrobe.

 Q: You mentioned stylists and personal shoppers, till what extent do they affect the clients buying behavior?  

Today stylists and personal shopper play a vital role in fashion promotion, adaption and attitude. There was a period in the 1980s and 1990s when it was all about the designer. Then stylists arrived and suddenly everything was mixed up; it was impossible to force a look on a woman. But I think that’s wonderful – to give women the possibility to decide for themselves.

Q:It’s often been said that the people who buy couture  don’t travel first class as they own their own jet or they don’t own beach but island and even they do not go to restaurant, call the  maestro chef at home- How true it is ?
There’s a world that lives a discreet life, you don’t see them in hello mag and do they sell their birthday parties to glossies. So in that sense, yes Couture is a secret so is its wearers, who are united by a love of expert, highly flattering, made-to-measure tailoring alongside thrillingly cut evening wear embellished to the highest standards.

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Q: What does the secret club wears in their daily life?

Nobody wants to spend thousands of dollars for an everyday dress. It’s not realistic. We do a pret line too which serves the ‘’buy now, wear now’’ purpose with two ready-to-wear collections each year for spring/summer and fall/winter.

Q: Each fashion capital seems to have its own personality and make its own contribution to the global fashion ecosystem. What do you see as London’s role in this ecosystem?

We don’t have a strong couture heritage but London’s reputation as the leading creative fashion capital has developed over the past 25 years. London designers have a reputation for originality in design and those designs are exported globally to stores and independent retailers and through fashion media. We provided people for work room. We are often better behind the scene than the person on front.  Saying that, it isn’t just designers who are recognized for their creativity, it is our photographers, stylists, make-up artists, hair stylists and creative directors. London’s multiculturalism brings a clash of heritage and modernity which influences and inspires all creative sectors.

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Q: What are your nervous moments about your job? 

My most nervous moment is when the garment is in my head but not yet in its form. Then I am not sure if it will work.

Q: Any complement you received which is best to remember?

A client of mine once mentioned me that I can do a job that her surgeon can’t do. She elaborated that she had a short neck and with a perfect collar sliding well towards her shoulder, I can make it look long. Which his surgeon can’t, as he can’t cut her neck and enlarge it .

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Q: What would you advice new designer entering the field?

Designers have to remember they are designing clothes to help women look and feel great. You need sales in order to run a business. In your financial model, present a conservative forecast, but work to an aggressive target, ensuring that you always over-deliver. I suggest when making a collection go for 60% commercial and 40% creative. So you can have the journey carrying on.

Thank you for your time!

You can get in touch with Omar Mansoor on the following sites:
My website is www.omarmansoor.com
email: [email protected]
Twitter: @omarmansoor
Facebook: www.facebook.com/omarmansoor

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