29 June 2020

‘Third culture kid’:  VCUarts Qatar Grad Lauren Morrell Taps Into Nomadic Childhood for Inspiration

The word ‘upcycling’ was probably not in Lauren Morell’s vocabulary as she was growing up in the United States. But, inadvertently, that’s how she started out.

“As a child, I used to cut up old t-shirts and repurpose them,” says Morell, as she recalls her earliest memories of her ‘dabbling in design’, as she likes to put it.

“Even as a 10-year-old, I remember observing fashion trends – especially the clothes in my mother’s closet, which seemed like a treasure trove of different styles.”

That passion persisted; today, the 2020 graduate in fashion design from VCUarts Qatar has her own brand of women’s wear.

Aptly titled “Wanderer – a Nomadic Collection,” it deftly combines her interests – repurposing cut-offs and recycled material – with her experiences of living in five countries, including Qatar.

“For every collection there’s a story; without a story, there’s no purpose,” explains Morell. “The name of my collection evokes the different patterns, textures, and recycled fabrics that I’ve combined, to create my own style.

“It also mirrors the cultures I’ve been exposed to. My craftsmanship is a modern twist of traditional wear, and my Latin heritage. Yet the patterns are not confined by age or area, but cater to taste.

“I see it as a collection inspired by my nomadic childhood, a time when my family travelled extensively, and each new place I lived in, was home to me. Like the third culture kid I am, my clothing line is an amalgamation of memories, experiences and cultural overlaps.”

That blend is evident in her creations; her pieces highlight a growing global fashion trend that, in essence, is typically Middle-Eastern – the kaftan.

“In the West, kaftans and throw-overs are proving popular as they can be adapted for both casual and evening wear,” says Morrell. “My collection - such as simplex one-pieces and kaftans - are voluminous; yet because of their bold design and versatility, they appeal to women across the globe.”

The VCUarts Qatar graduate adds that had she been told in high school that one day she would be studying fashion design in a country known more for its modesty in dressing, than its flamboyant sense of fashion, she wouldn’t have believed it.

Her time in Qatar has been, in her own words, ‘an experience that completely flipped my expectations and outlook towards the region.’

“When I first came to the Middle East with my family, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to pursue my interest in fashion design here. In fact, I attended community classes in two universities, so that I would have careers other than fashion design, to choose from.”

But the more she visited VCUarts Qatar in Qatar Foundation’s Education City, the more confident and convinced she became that she could pursue what her heart wanted.

“Living and studying in Qatar has shifted my perspective,” she notes. “I’ve discovered that modest clothing can be alluring – and modern; that it can be designed and draped in a way that adds to the personality of the wearer.

“Studying fashion design in the Middle-East has been an epiphany of sorts. I’ve been exposed to myriad cross-cultural influences unique to this region; my designs are the tangibles of this revelation.”

See more of Lauren’s work on the BFA + MFA Online Show website at http://vcuqbfamfa.com

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