wearable sculpture + unique fashion

Fashion

Announcing Morgan Culture RETAIL space!

Starting November 2, Morgan Culture will have a real-life retail location at CRAFTED at the Port of Los Angeles!! From CRAFTED’s website: “CRAFTED AT THE PORT OF LOS ANGELES is a new concept for Southern California; a large-scale permanent craft marketplace. Our classic World War II-era waterside warehouses will grow to be home to hundreds of individual craft-artists, designers, and artisanal food makers. Each artist presents their unique handcrafted goods in a vibrant patchwork of market stalls. Visitors will be treated to a huge variety of one-of-a kind treasures and have the chance to meet the makers every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday – that’s 52 weekends a year of handmade happiness! The marketplace will also be showcasing daily demonstrations, live music, special events, and of course delicious food from our fabulous food trucks.” The hours my shop will be open are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 11AM-6PM. I’ll be offering sweet in-store discounts, doing demonstrations, and generally meeting cool peeps. The store contains my newest product, LAYGS by Morgan Culture (hand-painted leggings), headpieces, and – wait for it – a WHEEL OF LEGS. Yes, you read that right. A WHEEL OF LEGS! I’ll also be featuring work from a few other artists and designers here and there, including some amazing T-shirts from AffirmaTees, in the first few months! Stay tuned, and please come visit me 🙂 See you at CRAFTED!


Morgan Culture DIY Tutorial: Cheap UGLY Shoes into HOT Wedding Wedges!

Part of the wedding outfit (unless you’re having a barefoot beach wedding or a ceremony that requires bare feet) is shoes. Experts estimate the average cost of moderately-priced bridal shoes is $100-$250. Even David’s Bridal shoes can run $40-$100, and many couples shopping on a budget might balk at these numbers when they have plenty of perfectly good shoes lying around already.

In my case, though I did have lots of perfectly good ones lying around (ok, probably too many), some of which were quite fancy, I wanted to get more creative with my duds and feel like I’d really chosen and/or made every part of my look.

Cost of this project: Shoes: $14 at Ross; fabric spray paint: $16.50 (used partially); Swarovski crystal appliques: $36. Total: $66.50.

My partner is super-tall, so I wanted to be at least marginally tall- you know, so we’d even end up in the same pictures. We were having

a beach wedding, so my search almost exclusively contained wedges. I knew I could change up the final appearance of the shoes as much as I wanted since I’d read an entire shoe-altering magazine called “Sassy Feet” and since I’d used Simply Spray for so much, so
I started looking for wedding shoes just based on shape. Check out THESE BAD BOYS, which are exactly my size, exactly the massive platform I wanted, and made my long feet look ever so slightly smaller. Also notice: they are HIDEOUS with that floral pattern and floral bow! Remember- we’re only looking for shape here. I tried on every shoe I thought would work for my purposes, despite any issues with its surface design. If you’re following my tutorial, look for a fabric-covered shoe: this method works only on fabric.

First I removed the hideous bows, never to return. They were simply hand-stitched in, so a simple tiny scissor worked.

Then, I taped off the non-fabric parts of the shoe. The top is a faux-suede microfiber material, so I made sure to tape it off tightly. I used old plastic bags (recycle!!) and masking tape for this. I also taped off the bottom lip of the shoes and made sure none of the inside would get painted either.

I painted the flowered part with Simply Spray upholstery paint in grey. I used only two layers, letting them dry in between, and I used barely a fraction of a can. Though I’d planned to cover the flowers entirely, I noticed that having them show through a little in a total grayscale looked really interesting, so I kept it. Make sure you really let the layers dry, as too much wetness can cause the fabric to loosen from the glue on the shoe.

As a final touch to the paint, I added a light layer of Simply Spray silver stencil paint. It was basically like spraying glitter all over them!

Though I was too excited to let the paint dry completely and part of it came off the bag wet and onto the shoes, I was actually able to remove it with “LA’s Totally Awesome Stain Remover” (I know, I know- but I got it at the 99Cent store and it IS AWESOME). You can remove many mistakes, even with fabric dye or paint, from those shoes with this somehow cheap stain remover.

I realized the stitching from the formerly attached terrible bows had left holes/marks on the top fabric of the shoes, and that though the bottom looked awesome, the top wasn’t quite complete yet. Looking through my studio, I found some of the amazing one-of-a-kind Swarovski crystal and natural stone appliques I’d bought. Though it took me a LONG time to choose the ones I wanted, for the tops of the shoes I used a general applique, and for the backs I actually used a neckline applique. Since the neckline one is slightly curved, it fit around the curve of the shoe easily.


These appliques are actually meant to be carefully ironed on to a garment from the inside. I obviously couldn’t iron from the inside of the shoes, so I simply hot-glued the appliques to the shoes with tons of glue. I found it difficult to peel off the glue portions, so I left them on and glued the whole applique on. I actually would *NOT* suggest this method if you plan to use the shoes in any kind of humid weather. Our wedding was in Riviera Maya, Mexico, which was so humid that the iron-on portion (which I had glued) separated from the real applique!! If I’d done it again, I would have removed the iron-on glue from the appliques before putting them on the shoes.

And, without further adieu… the final products! (final images courtesy of Too Much Awesomeness… they are indeed AWESOME, even more so than LA’s Totally Awesome)


IMAGES of Morgan Culture at May Star’s Diamond Dust Show: San Diego, CA!

As promised, here are the photos from May Star’s Diamond Dust Show at Kitty Diamond in San Diego. This was the first time I’d mixed my wearable sculpture with my couture and wedding gowns all in one show. I found it quite challenging to conceive of a stage presentation that would make sense for this combination, and I really despise having my models just walk around and pose in my stuff.

My work, particularly the wearable sculpture, is meant to be really moved in. It’s meant to create characters and visceral reactions. I can’t just have girls stomping up and down a runway and posing! In the past at fashion shows, I’ve had multiple pieces on stage simultaneously, interacting with each other, in order to make a splash. I love standing back and watching the audience react to my unexpected stage presentation and even more unexpected sculpture at fashion shows. Morgan Culture segments at these shows tend to end up closer to the world of performance art as I ask my models to “do something they’ve always wanted to do on stage but have never had the opportunity to.” Even at more conservative bridal shows, I’ve had my models doing fun and different things like throwing fake flowers at the audience or dancing around. This show could be no different.

Since I had even numbers of sculpture/couture and wedding gowns, I decided to have the girls in gowns “marry” the weird sculptur-ey creatures. I chose one costume (the one displayed at last year’s Inglewood Open Studios exhibition at the Beacon Arts Center) as a shaman type who would marry the two together. I know it’s ridiculous that I didn’t think of this beforehand, but this show occurred during San Diego’s Gay Pride weekend. It didn’t even cross my mind that my show idea would be related to gay marriage- what a happy accident! I had oodles of compliments coming from all types of audience members (some of whom had outfits to rival the ones on stage)!

The only problem with this unique performance-style arrangement on stage (rather than the typical walk and pose) was the logistics. I didn’t realize I’d planned to have the models leaving off the wrong end of the stage- the opposite end of where the other designers’ models were going to end up. I had to quickly shift the plans, which made the whole program much more confusing for the models, who weren’t used to this type of thing in the first place.

Also, since several models didn’t show, our HAIRSTYLIST actually volunteered to walk in the show! I had her in one of my outfits, but when the show didn’t start early enough (she had a wedding to style super-early in the morning), she ended up leaving, which put a kink in the lineup of the show. I’d paired her to “marry” someone, and then had to change on the fly right before my lovely ladies walked onstage! Overall the experience was a blast and I wish I could attend more Diamond Dust events! The models enjoyed the freedom they had and each model had a completely different personality shining through during the performance.

The pictures are fabulous and I truly thank everyone who helped make this a reality. Oh, and a video, taken by the partner of one of my lovely ladies, is HERE !


Gown Transformations by Morgan Culture

People seem to really love the finished Morgan Culture wedding gowns and formal gowns. Many people who visit my studio while works are in progress have trouble imagining the final output for the pieces.

 

I can’t explain how my inspiration works, since each piece has its own unique journey. Sometimes I “see” the final outcome in my head when I see the original dress and all I have to do is execute, and sometimes I go through weeks or months of sketching and thinking while the dress sits totally alone in my studio.  I can’t explain the whole process, but I can share with you some before and after images of these gowns!

 

As you may know, my tagline is “eco-fashion for the bad-ass bride”. The ‘eco’ part indicates that most of my dresses and materials are recycled from other garments or other wedding gowns. You might find yourself surprised at the transformations some of these pieces have undergone! Some have had stains, runs, rips… and some start out just plain boring! That is- until I get to them. Not to be pompous or anything, but I think “boring” is the furthest thing from peoples’ minds when they look at my collections.

 

Here are a few Morgan Culture wedding gown transformations for your enjoyment. What do you think? Do these inspire other ideas for you?

 


New Line of Headwear for Headbands of Hope!

As announced earlier this year, Morgan Culture and Headbands of Hope have created a partnership. In this partnership, 40% of the purchase price of a Morgan Culture headpiece is donated to Headbands of Hope, $1 is donated to St. Baldrick’s Foundation, and one little girl with cancer will receive a headband!

I created a new line to celebrate the partnership and generate more donations for Headbands of Hope. This new line is a bit less overtly bridal, yet still fancy enough to be used for a special occasion (or of course for a colorful bride wearing a Morgan Culture gown!).
Essentially, these headpieces are a one-of-a-kind couture option for patrons of Headbands of Hope who want more unique statement pieces while creating the same philanthropic outcome.

They’re not all headbands, but they are all awesome! Peruse or purchase at my Etsy shop HERE. Pro photos coming soon- I was just so excited to have them I wanted to share them immediately!
I’d love to see photos of your headbands in action- where have you worn them?


On Showing Where You Don’t Live

Recently, I was the featured designer at May Star’s Diamond Dust event in San Diego, California. Although it’s a mere 3 hours away from LA, I’d never been to San Diego. That also meant I didn’t know anyone who lived there (i.e. models, hair/makeup, lodging).

Morgan Culture with the other designers at May Star’s Diamond Dust show!

May asked me to show 15 looks, which is quite a lot! The last few runway shows I’ve done were around 8-10 looks. The difference between 10 and 15 may not seem like much, but for a designer is quite significant. Many designers do not like to show the same work more than once; they create new lines or looks for each show.

I started searching for models by sending out a model call to my usual Los Angeles model crew. Since I wasn’t paid for this show, I couldn’t offer any pay or even gas money for my models, but the opportunity was available should they want to join me. I also asked for recommendations for their model friends in San Diego. Although one of my models chose to come with me, this approach was mostly a dead end.

Next, I pursued friends. I messaged people in the fashion industry, other designers, and people I knew who’d lived in or near San Diego previously. I received a few referrals, but most of those models were busy and a few were already modeling for other designers in the show (we try to avoid having models double up for designers, since we keep makeup and hair consistent for each designer’s looks and since the logistics of having models switching outfits can be quite difficult to manage successfully).

I posted a model call on Model Mayhem and immediately received quite a bit of interest. However, I was informed that no models under 21 could participate in the show, and all the messages I’d received were from under-21 models. Boo.

I then checked in with the organizer of the show, May Star, who had offered her help finding models if I had any trouble (which I clearly was). She posted a model call for me on her facebook- just one simple post- and within an hour had around 20 responses from models or from people referring models to her. This was wonderful and landed me some solid models as well as a few cool connections who are now friends. However, I didn’t have nearly enough models. You see, due to the pandemic of Model Flake Factor, most designers overbook models by at least 1.5 times the amount we need (though I personally always bring enough garments for everyone, in the near-impossible event that all models show up). I didn’t even have enough for my line yet, not to mention the overbooks!

The Discerning Designer’s Last Resort: Craigslist. I posted an ad on craigslist and had dozens of emails roll in. I realized I hadn’t specified whether I was seeking male or female models, so I had to clarify the ad. I actually ended up having to pull down my ad because my overbook quota was complete as well!
Out of the 20 models I booked, 12 showed up. Though I got a little antsy about lacking a few models, our very cute and very adventurous HAIRSTYLIST happened to fit one of my gowns perfectly and decided to walk in the show!
All the images and the video, with a full description of the show, will be included in the next post, so stay tuned!


How Much Does the Average Wedding Cost?

This is, of course, not news to brides who buy Morgan Culture gowns- all of which are way cheaper than the average gown, and all of which are recycled and good for the environment. Oh, and can be easily worn more than just once.

 

But good news- those of us who are thrifty and actually want to spend our money on the honeymoon- oh, and rent- are not alone!

 

This article details the actual costs of weddings, and I’m proud to say all my gowns are in the very lowest end of the price bracket for dresses (which crazily goes up to $5000). Especially those that are on sale!

 

How Much Does the Average Wedding Cost?.