The fashion industry is sometimes thought of as a world of two halves. On one side you have a bubble of all-black, well-tailored serious silhouettes and on the other, the novel and frivolously fun labels like Moschino and Jeremy Scott. It’s rare you’ll find a brand that marries fun and function, but London-based label Mormo is challenging those norms. We caught up with young designer and CSM alumna, Natasha Somerville, to find out more about the otherworldly (and seriously cool) stamp she’s leaving on the fashion industry.
You studied Womenswear design at CSM; how did you end up getting into accessories?
—My first job after graduating was a consultancy project in collaboration with CSM and Bvlgari. It was like a eureka moment for me; I was able to purely focus on my aesthetic of creating unusual techniques without having to worry about the fit on a model.
The whole aesthetic and story of the brand is so unique. How did you come up with the concept of your creatures?
—It’s hard to say, really. Sometimes ideas just pop into my head and I can imagine them fully-formed and finished. The monsters are just a starting point for the brand. It was a way of pushing what I do to an extremity in order to fully represent it. What I really enjoy is playing with unusual techniques and materials to come up with something unique; last season it was resin-cast hands on the bags, this season it’s glow in the dark leather and a focus on stitching. For S/S17 I have something entirely fresh planned.
Your work really pushes the boundaries of creativity and imagination within high-end design; where do you draw your inspiration from?
—Thank you, that’s always humbling to hear. At the moment I just keep my eyes and ears open to everything as much as I can. I also like to think that a sense of humour or fun is integral to being creative – which can come in handy when you have a million deadlines too.
I’ve seen first-hand a lot of the thought and effort that goes into your painstakingly detail-orientated work; could you talk us through your design process?
—Well it always starts with an idea. After that there’s a lot of stitching, trial and error, tears and retrospection. Really though, I love to be very hands on in the early stages of the design process, and playing with materials definitely helps me formulate visions in my head of where they belong, how they could fit. I was known at CSM for my ridiculous, often time-consuming techniques, which sometimes seemed impossible to create. I like the challenge of looking at something conventional and doing something unexpected with it.
There’s been a lot of talk recently about emerging designers being able keep up with the changes that big design houses are starting to implement. What’s your take on this? As a young, growing brand yourself, do you think this will stifle your label in any way?
—I think the big benefit of being a small business is how much easier it is for us to think of an idea and implement it. We don’t have big logistics networks and global shop locations to update every time. Fashion is an art, and there are all kinds of demands and trends that are continuously changing and evolving, as the conversation changes. We see more and more how fashion shifts globally, and, to an extent, online exposure levels the field for small businesses. Great ideas have more room for exposure than they traditionally would have, because as long as it’s engaging, it will catch on. We’ve had a lot of fun doing things like our digital lookbook, which was in collaboration with Éamonn Freel, as well as posting a sort of mood board and constant stream of inspirations on Instagram. In fact we mostly engage with our customers through Instagram, which definitely has a more personal feel.
All of your monsters have their own unique little personalities and names; how do you assign these to them?
—I’m really visual when it comes to the designs, so images of the bags ready made will pop into my head. The names just fell into place once I saw the bags – all I have to do is match the name to the character of the bags!