Still waiting

Photographed by Marco Giuliano.

Welkin at dusk until the light finds its way. A story featuring dreamy handmade pieces by Mariel Manuel, shot by Marco Giuliano and styled by Anca Macavei.

Manuel Manufactures is the name of the brand, so the handmade/artisanal work is important for you, this introduce your clothes more like artworks than just dresses, is this your concept of fashion?
I started this project as a way to reconnect to myself after working for luxury fashion houses like a bulldozer for eight years. The way I design and find ideas happens always in a very organic, intuitive way, by making the ideas in 3D, I directly feel the story, draping and carving lines and building the structure on the mannequin. I started experimenting with all the leftovers I had collected for all those years, many plastics I had found or fabrics from my travels, all with their own story. My main intention with this (ongoing) project is to express the fragility in which we live, when you consider the current state of the world, whatever role fashion has to do with that. I only use scraps and pieces that I once found, that were forgotten. In a way, I see myself like a seeker, an artist trying to make sense of our world. And I believe fashion has such a powerful voice and place, for its stories speak to so many people.

You are from Switzerland, but your own line of clothes has many Oriental, especially Indian features, how could you describe your fascination for the east clothing?
I travelled to India a few times as a child. And I still have some silk I bought in the sari shop from when I was like 10. I returned there when I was 30, and met an Indian painter, who set up a studio in Chennai for me to work in with two Tamil embroiderers. In 2020 I undertook a 3 month residency with the Swiss Arts Council of New Delhi, where I was able to meet many local and international designers, and exchange with craftsmen and design students. My fascination comes from their very strong relationship and understanding that the resources they work with comes from their land, the people they work with are from their land. The value of this craftmanship blew me away when I saw the finest embroidered textiles at the Sanskriti Foundation in New Delhi. In an age where the new generations are drawn to computer jobs, there, standing in front of these textiles, I was witnessing one of the most valuable expression of intelligence…The work of the human hand.

Your pieces are usually realized with very complex craftmanship processes like hand dying, draping and embroidery, where have you learned these procedures and how did they become your focus in design?
In each of my pieces, the process is the story and the story is inspired by how I live. I’ve always been making and figuring out as a child, so I’m always creating something with what I have at hand. I was working with Nicolas Ghesquière at Balenciaga and later for Paco Rabanne, and always making ideas in 3D, crafting the finest textile samples, drapes or finishings. So I learned a lot there, how to bring clear ideas and translate emotions into the garment.
Later in my own project, we would go to the oldest natural remedy shop in old Madras, where everyone is yelling to be next in turn for their natural remedy order. I met once two twins with the most beautiful hair below their butt, they were coming to get a specific plant to help their hair from thinning. They said the government changed the water supply and since then their hair has grown thinner and thinner. These kinds of stories are in my dresses. I love how color holds a story, and using natural dyes especially more, as I use accidents as part of the experiment. I feel the colors are still changing since the dress was made. It’s evolving, maybe decaying too. I like it.

Still waiting


Photography: Marco Giuliano / @marcogiulianoph
Styling: Anca Macavei / @ancamacavei
Fashion: Mariel Manuel / @manuel_manufactures @marielmanuel
Editorial assistant: Inga Lavarini / @ilavarini
Styling assistant & Interview: Silvia Valente / @silviavalentevi
Ania at Wonderwall Management / @aramania @ww_mgmt
Weronika at Next Models Milan / @weroniikabogusz @nextmodelsmilan

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