Mariel Manuel is a master textile designer and freehand draper. She works from her atelier in Lausanne, making one of a kind pieces that are exquisitely delicate and emotional. She travels the world collecting fabrics, sequence and experimental materials, which she then magically combines in her limited edition collections. She is an Antwerp Fashion Academy alumni, and has worked for over a decade consulting for Paris based fashion houses such as Balenciaga, Paco Rabanne and Haider Ackermann. We are very lucky to collaborate with her and receive her capsule collections made specially for Big Bang.
1. What do you enjoy the most about your work?
The seeking, the imagining, when the idea comes into my mind... When I travel or see something, I always see so many possibilities. This is for me where everything is started. After this, I enjoy the whole creative process and bringing it to life the exact way that I see and feel it.
2.How did you start your project?
This project started I think at the very beginning of my career. After my studies in Antwerp, I was already expressing my imagination in so many stories and collections. After graduating, I started working at Balenciaga under Nicolas Ghesquière. I spent 3,5 years in the studio, researching textiles and experimental projects for runway. This time was a goldmine as we had unprecedented access to the most beautiful fabrics and resources, I'm not sure it still exists with the current budgets they give to creation. At some point, I realized the amount of waste we produced after each collection, I started collecting scraps and things they were throwing away. It eventually all came together in an archive of fabrics and laces I collected during my travels around the world as well.
Three years ago, I went back to India, and there something was born. I started going deeper into the textiles and embroideries, discovering the most beautiful skilled craftsmens. We set up a small studio with two karigars, men who do embroidery, in Chennai. Expressing my ideas directly into the textile, while guiding their hands as an expression of my hands... The pieces we create are all about using less, using what we have and adding value by transforming the textiles into wearable pieces.
3. What are your best or more useful tools to work with?
My hands! Give me a mannequin and I will sculpt a bias cut dress in chiffon... If lines are elegant in the flat shapes, they will drape marvelously onto a body. Thats a ration of geometry and organic way of working. By making you find solutions and can express the whole story, all into the finest details.
4. How is your work a personal expression?
It is a personal expression that is related to feeling. Feeling the fabric, what does it tell me, gives me the idea of what I want to make out of it. I like to consider my garments alive, and they are alive because of that human touch.
5. What object do you cherish the most?
If we stay in the line of my profession, a metal box with my sewing needles, my crochets and smalls treasures.