Summer is still going strong and while we’re getting our noses sunburned and our hair bleached by salty water, the Swiss fashion design student Mariel Manuel has created a collection that will make us dream about mermaids and the oceans for the entire year.
With her final collection, ‘Keep Your Eye On The Doughnut’, from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp she is clearly a new name to keep an eye on. But who is Mariel? Here is a little look into her world.

VOLT CAFÉ: When and where did you realize your passion and love for fashion?
MARIEL MANUEL: I think it came gradually as I was collecting more and more old issues of Vogue, Numéro and Elle magazines from the hair salon in front of my house in Switzerland. I would come back home and find a big pile of glossy fashion magazines waiting for me on the doorstep! I was 12, it was like Christmas had come early. I used to rip out all the nice photos, cut carefully around the body, glue them onto expensive paper and make presentation cards. I have always drawn with my mom but I think this is what triggered the garment/fashion ‘click’.
VC: Who and what is your biggest inspiration?
MM: My dad is a pilot and we grew up, my family and I, travelling by plane to far countries none of my friends had ever heard of. It gave me stars in my eyes… And I believe it is an eternal source of inspiration and memories.
VC: Do you have a muse? If so, what does this person give you?
MM: I have a ‘brain’ muse and that’s David Lynch.
VC: How do you transfer your inspiration into a collection?
MM: It starts with an idea that sticks in my mind for a long time. I always like to imagine a story behind my collection, with its own characters, its own setting… That’s the best part of it, when I can go wild in my sketchbooks, writing down sentences and stories next to my drawings, setting a certain tone. It’s actually funny that it turns out to be fashion in the end, I feel it could be the mood board for a film or a theatre play…
VC: What feelings do you want to mediate with your collections?
MM: I always get cold when I see all the commercial and uncreative fashion trends people follow. What I like is to see a collection where you feel something new is happening, where you feel there is a character behind it. I want to make people dream.
VC: Who is your dream customer/client?
MM: I’d like to see women pushing their supermarket trolley wearing my dresses!
VC: What has been the highlight during your career so far?
MM: My last two days before graduating from the Academy. You come to the tipping point of four really intense years, and you realize everything you have achieved. I still need to digest this part of my life.
VC: Where do you see yourself in the future and what is your goal?
MM: I don’t want to get rich and famous! It’s more about dreams I want to fulfil! But one thing for sure, I want to work at it and use my hands.
VC: Inspiration you’d like to share with us? Inspiring designers, bloggers, photographers, artists etc.?
MM: I’m glad I have met really talented photographers/designers/artists throughout my years in Antwerp. In a funny way, I came looking for photographers back in Switzerland. I love my friend Maya Rochat’s work, and Thomas Rousset too, both graduates from Ecal (Ecole Cantonale d’Art Lausanne) in Switzerland. Their pictures are of amazing quality and intensity. I met Valentina Vos through flickr, where I hold my own page (I love it!). She struck me with the personality and humanity of her photos. ‘We find wildness’ is a great blog that hosts great artists, fashion designers and photographers. And I will forever admire the work of David Lynch.

Words by Emelie Hultqvist


David Lynch, fashion, Mariel Manuel, Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, We Find Wildness,