Kelly Morgan

If personality truly does go a long way in the business world, Hawaiian-born Kelly Morgan is definitely poised for fashion designer stardom. Exuberant, motivated, and gifted to boot, Morgan’s recent foray into design and dressmaking have started to create quite a buzz in the community. Sine the start of 2007, she’s transformed herself into a sort of one-woman publicity machine: “I made a New Year’s resolution to make all of my own clothes. Everything I went out in : except for denim,” she explained. And by making the social rounds in her handcrafted duds, she’s managed to garner a couple followers, as well as interest from Santa Barbara retailer Bryan Lee.

A talented-and accomplished-photographer, Morgan took to clothing design much like she did to professional camera wielding. “I’ve always tried to get into the whole organized education thing, but I get bored really easily. That’s not me saying I think I’m better than it, but I just get distracted. : I have taken my fair share of photography classes, but I didn’t go to Brooks or anything,” she confided. With no formal training under her belt, Morgan seems to make up in determination what she lacks in strict schooling. “I got totally wrapped up in [designing]. I’m a bit obsessive that way. When I want to do something I just kind of go for it,” she said.

Dress by Kelly Morgan

Morgan’s spring dress collection, full of ethereal, flowing fabrics, plunging necklines, and embellishments that ranged from intricate gold brooches to contrasting ribbon cinch ties, was daring even in its girlish elegance. For fall, Morgan said her aesthetic has definitely branched off in a couple new directions.

“There are two divisions of what’s going on with the fall collection; dresses and T-shirts,” she explained. “I started dating this guy who was way more rock ‘n’ roll. He’d pick me up and I’d be dressed like Audrey Hepburn and he’d be in jeans and a T-shirt and he’d ask me, ‘What are you doing? Where are you going-the prom?'” The relationship pushed Morgan to try dressing down, but when it came time to find tops, she was at a loss. “I couldn’t find any T-shirts I liked, so I decided to try and make some,” she explained. “They’re spray-painted [with a] very funky, chic vibe to them. They’ve got chains and stuff that dangles. : Some are a bit more conservative, some are very funky, don’t-mess-with-me-rock-n-roll.” But that’s not to say that Morgan has left her girlish roots behind her. “For the fall, the dresses are a lot of blacks, very femme fatale. It’s stuff for women or girls who like that little extra something,” she enthused.

Currently, Morgan is finishing up the fall line, and avid shoppers should keep their eyes peeled for her work, which she hopes to get in some downtown stores-including Bryan Lee-in the coming months. “If you want to get into fashion design, you have to know from the start that it’s an uphill battle. It’s like being a pop star. The people who are going to make it really, really want it.”


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