Mariel Manuel


Mariel Manuel

'What Happens in the Grotto, Stays in the Grotto', diploma collection (2009/2010)

Fashion Design

Jury report

'What Happens in the Jury, Stays in the Jury'
Aged only 23, Mariel Manuel completed her master's degree at the renowned 'Royal Academy of Fine Arts' in Antwerp. For the Swiss Federal Design Competition, she submitted her bachelor's degree project with the mysterious title 'What Happens in the Grotto, Stays in the Grotto'.

Mariel Manuel presented her eight-piece collection in coffin-like wooden boxes. Nicely draped, the outfits were encased in the closed boxes which when opened revealed a wonderland: bear paws, logs with a pearl necklace, fox heads and tails, very beautiful colour prints on fine fabrics and stockings, white and pink bridal veils, richly decorated little crowns, absurd shoes and many other such items.

In order to be able to make sense of the numerous impressions from these wonder boxes, it is helpful to have a look at the workbook of the young fashion designer. In the form of rich and imaginative illustrations, it contains the origins of the story behind the collection. It is a story about pairs of lovers who flee from Las Vegas to the deepest depths of the forest. There, in the enchanted forest, animals take over the sceptre: 'The claws appear, the fur comes out of the light silk blouse, the earth and the prisms devour trouser seams, and a dorsal fin is formed...'. The women and men (the outfits are to be construed as pairs) roam through the woods in long veils and collect objects which they put on their crowns. With laser beams emanating from their eyes, they look at each other passionately and say 'I love you'.

What is amazing about this work is that the numerous ideas do not interfere with, or even distract from, each other. Even if the individual pieces with their innumerable lovely details are at first reminiscent of the types of treasures found in a dress-up box, Mariel Manuel has nevertheless created a coherent and also wonderfully poetic collection.

'What Happens in the Grotto, Stays in the Grotto' is a highlight of this year's competition. If ever we tire of looking at the collection at all, we will certainly look forward to more, for example to 'Keep Your Eye on the Doughnut' (Mariel Manuel's follow-up collection).
Anna Niederhäuser


Mariel Manuel
Born in
Fashion designer


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