Welcome to the monsters’ den and the wonderfully luxurious world of Mormo
“You’re here for a reason; like us, you want to stand out” – Mormo
With her two pretty little feet barely off the ground, CSM graduate and luxury handbag designer Natasha Somerville is headed to fashion superstar status.
After years in the making, a collaboration with Bulgari and a lifetime of monster research, Mormo has finally launched.
Shaking up the world of luxury design, Somerville’s brand and bold debut collection has proved to be more than worth the wait.
Made up of 3 leather clad characters , meticulous attention to detail and heaps of attitude; Mormo is the handbag of the year you’ll want to save up for, and the cheeky partner in crime you’ll never want to part with!
I spoke with Natasha to find out more about her process, and whether or not she has a favourite in the monster family?!
I’m sure you get asked this all the time but where did your first inspiration or original idea for your monsters come from?
NATASHA SOMERVILLE: I got the idea years ago, no seriously 4 years ago! The idea came in my second year at Central St.Martins within a handbag project in collaboration with Louis Vuitton. My inspiration for the project came from John Stezakers’ surrealist photographic collages.
I combined animals with still-life objects in bizarre patchwork images in a similar style to Stezaker. I eventually pictured this monster that had transformed into a handbag but got stuck half-way through the transformation; Snotty was born!
All your bags are made with extremely luxurious leathers. Was quality something you wanted to put first from the outset. Did you already know when you were putting Mormo together that you would venture into the luxury market?
I take pride in everything I put out, therefore compromising on quality was never a question for me. As it is, I’ve kept the price as low as I could because I understand how difficult it can be to put that much money aside, and we want everyone to enjoy these designs. We’re currently working on a second, more affordable range for S/S.
I got a taste of the luxury market working with Bulgari, and it’s something I really enjoyed; the level of artistry, all of the little intricacies and complex design were very exciting from a design point of view.
Each character features all these incredibly intricate and playful details. Press the back of the nose or tongue and you’ll find a secret toggle! Hand-cast resin moulds brought to life the hands, noses and tongues!
Was there one which was more complex to create, or physically produce?
The tongue and nose toggles were excruciatingly difficult to both design and produce. I really wanted the monster features to not just be decoration but to have a hidden function; I think that’s a lot more exciting. I deconstructed lots of types of plastic toggles to get an idea of their design and engineering. Afterwards the toggles had to be tested by printing numerous 3D printed prototypes, some of which were hilariously bad.
You put together one of the most fun and memorable look books I think I’ve come across in 7 years in fashion. There’s so many personal touches in what you do, from the custom animations on your website to the detailed hand-drawn lining inside every bag. Would you say your were an artist before you were a fashion designer or have the two kind of worked off each other?
Is there on which comes easier?
I’ve always loved painting. Since I was old enough to walk I snuck off to go paint in my high chair. I don’t think there has to be a separation between art and fashion. Fashion is just another reflection of my imagination, just as art is. The two marry wonderfully to help me express my ideas to the utmost.
It’s always lovely to hear a positive reaction to what I’m doing, as I feel everything I put out is a reflection of at least one aspect of who I am as a person. I really try to let my personal identity be visible in my work because I value individual expression above all else.
What is your process like when you’re designing?
I favour a pencil before any other tool, in Mormo’s case I began doodling hundreds of crazy creatures, I focused on creating a really strong characterisation for each monster.
I have a massive bible of accessories within collections dating back 20 years or so, I like to flick through this and always be aware of what designers have done in current seasons to forget that and start afresh.
Working in 3D is important for me to get an overall feeling of shape and proportions, as this can be easily lost in 2D. For Mormo I worked a lot in clay to produce tongues, noses and hands all shapes and sizes which was a lot of fun!
Are you listening to music when you work? What are you listening too?
My music taste is ridiculously eclectic. I either just stick my itunes on which has some real vintage stuff I used to listen to as a teen. Or I love soundtracks from some of my favourite movies – David Bowie in Jim Henson’s Labyrinth is just unreal. One of my all time favourite animated films is Heavy Metal which has an amazing score – Stevie Knicks, Black Sabbath oh its crazy I suggest you listen right now!
Is there something or someone that inspires you?
I think a lot of my creativity stems from my sense of humour. The two definitely bounce off each other. My best thoughts come when I am relaxed and happy.
Each of the characters which make up your collection are so developed. We’re you thinking about each of their little personalities when you were designing them/drawing them?
All the lil’ characters have a much deeper personal meaning to me than their snotty nose, sharp teeth and slobbery tongue. Anything that you create and show to other people is like offering up a bit of yourself to the world. In that way the characters embody ideas of how I approach fashion and design-reminding me its doesn’t have to be so serious and you can have a lot of fun.
Of all the Mormo characters which one would you say is the most mischievous?
Haha I would say Spike – Snotty’s a bit of a sad case as he constantly has a cold poor thing, and Drool well he’s a bit dopey with his ginormous tongue slobbering all over the place!
Do you have a favourite? One you wear the most?
I’m a bit of a sucker when it comes to backpacks, mainly because I’m usually on my rollerblades so anything else gets annoying for me. Drool loves going out for a blade, he likes the feeling of the wind on his patent leather body!
When you’re not working on your next design what are you doing?
Bikram yoga takes up the majority of my spare these days, my heads always so crammed with ideas and things, it helps me not to panic as much haha. I’m a model with Anti-Agency, which is full of amazingly talented people. I also work in this adorable café in Camden called Nectar Café with one of my bessies, you should definitely come down and eat some of our delicious raw goodies!
Lastly what’s next? What does the future have in store for Mormo?
I can’t quite predict the future for Mormo just yet, but what I can tell you is that Drool now has a girlfriend – ‘Droolita’ and she will be up for grabs come S/S 16!
EARLY-BIRD LIST NOW OPEN!
Words by Tracy Kawalik and Natasha Somerville
Photos Courtesy of Mormo