When creativity runs in your blood, it seems that great fashion comes about quite effortlessly. For Morgan Curtis, there is no greater source of inspiration than her mother, renowned American designer, Jill Stuart. Beginning her creative endeavours with oil painting and illustration, then fine-tuning her craft at the Cornell University and the prestigious Central Saint-Martins; Morgan Curtis cultivated her fashion chops by designing at her mother’s side for the Jill Stuart brand since 2009.
Following her desire to combine her two great passions, illustration and lingerie, Morgan Curtis set off on her own fashion path, launching off-kilter lingerie and sleepwear brand, Morgan Lane in 2014. In just two years, her meticulous attention to detail and exciting juxtaposition of both feminine and seductive elements have quickly gained the attention of the fashion world. Therefore it comes as no surprise that Morgan became a finalist for the prestigious CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund in 2016. With a playful yet enchanting aesthetic, filled with intimate personal illustrations, it’s safe to say that there is nowhere to go but up for Morgan Lane - who realises all of our lingerie dreams, and then some.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
I grew up in New York City and I have been obsessed with lingerie for as long as I can remember. I love to paint, draw, and let my imagination run wild.
You grew up surrounded by fashion. How has your mother, Jill Stuart, influenced your own career path?
She has inspired me more than anyone, I was basically raised in her office. I used to have my birthday parties in her pattern room and everyone would get to make their own skirt. She has more energy, passion, and drive than any person I have ever met; she encourages me to want to be a designer.
After finishing your degree with Cornell University and your course in Central Saint-Martin’s, you began designing for Jill Stuart in 2009. What was it like working side-by-side with your mother? What inspired you to branch out and create Morgan Lane?
I started working for my mother while I was in high school in 2005. I used to be a salesperson in her boutique and also interned at the office. Once I graduated, I worked in every different department, fabrics, sourcing, production - that I eventually worked my way up to design and assisted in many of her fashion shows. Learning all of the different parts of the company really helped me, it made me feel like I was ready to launch my own brand. My mother is my best friend and we share everything, but I wanted something that showed my own personality and my art.
Describe Morgan Lane in three words?
Playful, mischievous, enchanting
Tell us about your design philosophy? Could you walk us through your process?
I think when designing, one of the most important things is to stay true to yourself and to have fun. I like to show my enjoyment and sense of humour in my designs. I start with a theme — for example the mushrooms of the SS17 collection, and then I start drawing and watercoloring. This turns into a print, which leads to the colour palette and other fabrics and details that go into the rest of the collection. Each season has a new story.
Illustration has always been your first love. How do you incorporate this passion into Morgan Lane?
The brand muse, a doll named Lanie, was created after a series of doll paintings I did in 2013. I illustrate her on all of the packaging, sleeping masks, and sometimes in the prints and embroideries. Each season I introduce more characters, such as her friend Oscar the bat. I also illustrate all of my own prints, appliqués, and embroideries.
What is the inspiration for your latest collection?
I was drawn to the mystical worlds of Roxy Paine and Carsten Holler, I loved their mushroom artwork. The colour palettes and wild flowers of Alex Katz inspired my drawings of bright oversized florals that are embroidered onto silk. I wanted to create a realm of illusion and included rainbow elastics, swirls of colour blocked mesh, and beautiful butterflies.
You’ve done several collaborations with some amazing artists like Baron Von Fancy, Alison Lou, and Amanda Fatherazi. Could you tell us a little bit about these collaborations and how they came to be?
I love collaborating with artists that have the same approach to fashion as me and that have a big imagination like me. Baron Von Fancy and I were introduced in New York and he loved my funny little character Lanie. We thought it would be a cool idea to show Lanie actually traveling “To the Moon and Back” which is one of his famous phrases; and to combine our drawings over the New York City skyline where we are both from.
Alison Chemla of Alison Lou, is a close friend of mine from growing up in Manhattan. We were both in love with each other’s brands. We wanted to use her emoji’s with bright colours and make something really punchy yet luxurious like her jewellery. The “Dreaming of Diamonds” sleeping mask shows Lanie dreaming of all of Alison’s signature jewellery. I still wear a different emoji panty each day of the week.
Amanda Fatherazi and I met over Instagram actually. She understands my obsession with dolls more than anyone. As a doll designer, she is also probably the most creative person I know. We had an instant connection the first time I reached out to her and started liking all of each other’s posts. I thought she was the perfect person to help me bring Lanie to life and she made me a doll based on my drawings. We have collaborated on several different pyjamas, sleeping masks and other accessories that continue each season.
What has changed for you since becoming a finalist for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund this year?
Becoming a finalist has been a dream come true. I have had the privilege of hosting each judge in my studio and having one-on-one time with some of the greatest talents in the fashion industry. I also have a new found confidence in my brand and even more excitement to see what’s to come of it.
What is next for Morgan Lane? Any exciting new projects or collaborations for 2017?
After launching the renowned swimwear label Solid and Striped, I have decided to expand Morgan Lane and start my own swimwear line. I am super excited about this as I am just as obsessed with bathing suits as bras and panties. It will launch for spring 2017
Interview by Hannah Tan