In Conversation: Rachel Mansur and Floriana Gavriel

Rachel Mansur and Floriana Gavriel are the founders of the New York-based accessories label Mansur Gavriel. Created in 2012, Mansur Gavriel is known for finely crafted leather goods in clean, pop colors. For Spring/Summer 2016, the label introduced a capsule collection in collaboration with Maharam featuring textiles designed by Alexander Girard. For one evening during New York Fashion Week in September 2015, the Swiss Institute in SoHo was transformed into a pink department store-inspired set populated by models in one-off Girard shift dresses with accessories to match. Here, the designers share the inspiration behind their collection.

How and where did you meet? 

Mansur Gavriel: We met in L.A. in 2010 as complete strangers at a concert. We easily connected and met up the next day. A gradual collaboration came about, long distance between L.A. (Rachel) and Berlin (Floriana). We began focusing on Mansur Gavriel full time in 2012, and launched in stores in the summer of 2013.

Were bags and accessories the focus of Mansur Gavriel right away?

MG: Our initial aesthetic connection was primarily focused on material quality and continues to be so. From the beginning we envisioned an entire world, complete with accessories, ready-to-wear, and other product categories. At the time we were very interested in vegetable-tanned leather, as we felt there wasn’t a product out there that implemented the material in an elegant way. We searched and found what we considered the finest vegetable-tanned leather available, from a Tuscan tannery that had been producing it for generations. Both having an art background, we also loved the idea of approaching our initial product as a sculptural object. 

Your Spring/Summer 2016 collection is focused on textiles designed by Alexander Girard in the 1950s and ’60s. What attracted you to work with these textiles?

MG: The entire world of Alexander Girard is breathtaking—his use of pattern, color, texture. We love how he was interested in designing in so many different forms—furniture, objects, elegant typeface.

Did you find any specific challenges or advantage in working with upholstery textiles?

MG: It was wonderful to use a fabric that could work across different functionalities. We utilized the fabric for ready-to-wear at our presentation, as well as the accessories. Both were designed to accommodate the nature of the fabric, so we found it manageable to work with.

How would Mansur Gavriel approach interior design if that were its principal focus? 

MG: This is difficult to answer as that world would have such nuance and depth, but we can state some design principles we are interested in—rich and high-quality fabrics; an elegant use of wood, as the material can be both clean and warm; and natural textures combined with clean lines, as well as warm, natural hues combined with both subtle, elegant color and a strong pop color.

As a relatively young company, what excites you about your future working together and the collections yet to come?

MG: We’re most excited for the opportunity to express the Mansur Gavriel world through many different mediums. We look forward to adding new product categories, exploring graphic design in a deeper, more meaningful way, and continuing to express the emotion of the brand through photography, installation, and other creative collaborations.

The limited-edition Alexander Girard capsule collection is now available exclusively through Bergdorf Goodman and

Images: Courtesy of Mansur Gavriel.