Sofia Duarte


Outline the story …

Manta – faixa de pano, de largura variável, usada como agasalho. Piece of fabric of variable width, used as a shawl or a blanket

No Portuguese in its right mind lives without a “manta”. Our summers are hot but our houses during the winter are cold so we seek comfort and protection wrapping up ourselves in blankets and shawls

Playing with the meaning of words always played a crucial role on my costumes and concepts. A Manta is both a blanket and a creature of the sea that can curiously be visually described the same way . If a Manta was to hug you, this is exactly how it would look like.

These powerful but inoffensive giants float gracefully close to the surface of warm waters, but they can comfortably swim in deep waters where the pressure and temperature changes drastically. Just as when a woman walks, she floats gracefully as if nothing could make her stumble from her path. Her biggest strength is her spine: her confidence and sense of self, something I’ve lost in the past three years.

A Manta Ray symbolizes grace, verticality, calibration, strength, adaptability and ability to handle pressured situations, elements that are pivotal in personal growth.

Mantas are truly free spirits that refuse to be kept in captivity committing suicide when taken out from the sea. They stop eating until they die. It is as poetic as it is being true to yourself.

Outline the construction…

When I looked at the 1910s wrapping cape I immediately saw a Manta Ray there wrapping its fins around one’s shoulders. I wanted to keep it as simple as possible, longer, and focus on two main things: the shape of the cape and the pearl buttons on the collar for the Manta’s eyes.

I've chosen a navy wool as the top fabric and a pearl satin for the lining because Manta Rays were believed to envelop pearl divers and swallow them to protect the pearls.

I’ve drafted the general lines from the “American Duchess” pattern and then draped the darts on the mannequin, then on myself, which has proven to be tricky because of the position and size of the closure at the back. I've made it wider on the shoulders using two shoulder pads pilled up to give it structure. To structure the collar I used interfacing on the top fabric and two layers of calico and interfacing and one layer of calico on the front wrapping panels.

Once it was finished I tried, for the first time ever, to embellish a garment with a trim. I never put any trimmings on my garments because I usually found them unnecessary; I want the boldness and the drama to come from the colors of fabrics and the shapes it can achieve. But I wanted texture so I stitched black lace around the hem, shoulders and opening of the collar achieving a very subtle texture that still makes the difference.




  1. Avatar Y'hanna Perez-Ortiz on May 1, 2023 at 9:18 pm

    As soon as I saw the cape, I knew it was based on a manta ray. You did a great job capturing the shape and look of it. I also like the double meaning/play on words as the cape definitely will keep you warm like a blanket. Well done!.

    • Avatar Sofia Sofia Duarte on May 8, 2023 at 8:11 am

      Thank you so much

      • Avatar Sofia Sofia Duarte on May 8, 2023 at 8:18 am

        It was so obvious to me when I started to look at the inspiration board. I didn’t want it to be too obvious on my garment but I wanted it to be clear anyway. So, thank you for seeing it too =)

  2. Avatar Christiane Christiane Edel on May 2, 2023 at 8:59 pm

    Beautiful! Love the lace detail.

    • Avatar Sofia Sofia Duarte on May 8, 2023 at 8:16 am

      Thank you =)

  3. Avatar Anna-Catherine Sendgikoski on May 7, 2023 at 6:49 pm

    I love this! I hadvthe privilege of swimming with a giant Manta Ray off the coast of Florida many years ago! I can certainly see the resemblance! Gorgeous!

    • Avatar Sofia Sofia Duarte on May 8, 2023 at 8:15 am

      Thank you. I don’t think I’ll ever get the chance to swim with a giant ray, I can only imagine it a breathtaking experience. I would cry as I already get emotional seeing them in the Oceanarium

  4. Avatar CC Page on May 8, 2023 at 5:49 am

    I love your storytelling and I think it comes through in your garment, which looks gorgeous.

    • Avatar Sofia Sofia Duarte on May 8, 2023 at 8:16 am

      Thank you, it was important to me that the garment could tell the story by itself

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