About this site...
This online presence is a space for creative reflection and inspiration. All content was created by me. For inquiries and collaborations please contact Morningportaldesign@gmail.com.
About Morning Portal...
"...Morning portal is amalgam of resort wear chic and androgynous minimalism."
- Julia Block, INK Magazine
Interview by Julia Block, INK Magazine
Interspersed between photos of irenic beach scenes, you’ll find shots of models coolly staring at you, wearing asymmetrical shirts and mesh dresses. Alex Curley’s Morning Portal is an amalgam of resort wear chic and androgynous minimalism. One hundred miles away from Richmond, Curley draws from both D.C. and his expertise in sculpture received at VCU. We sat down with the artist to discuss Morning Portal and his avant-garde approach to fashion.
INK: Where did the name Morning Portal come from?
Alex : A few years ago, I was working on a series of projected installations inspired by the light that illuminated space through windows. Morning Portal was originally the name of one of the artworks from that series. I thought it sounded dreamy and hopeful. Morning Portal also seemed to make the perfect connection with clothing as a portal for other worlds. I didn’t want my brand to be my birth name, I wanted it to be about something more than myself. Morning Portal felt right.
INK : What inspired you to become a designer and create genderless fashion?
Alex: Personally, clothing is an extension of my body and has always been important in my expression of self. It’s really important for me to create garments outside of gender expectations because gender identity is different for everybody. Clothing has the ability to make people feel empowered, and I would like to create things that empower people in their own expression of self.
INK: Is there an essential part of your design process?
Alex: It definitely has to be my time spent alone. This past year I moved away from Richmond to the D.C. area to teach. In the beginning, I didn’t know anyone and honestly, I felt very lonely. The quiet solitude I experienced eventually became incredibly inspiring, and it pushed me to begin Morning Portal in a very pure, uninterrupted context. I was able to have a studio practice with absolute focus, where I became completely absorbed in my creative process. It’s a really magical feeling when you’re working without any distractions and you lose track of time. During the winter months, I remember spending the weekends and evenings inside, sewing and listening to music for hours and hours. It was an immensely gratifying experience and I’m happy I’m able to share that work with you now.
INK: Who is your ideal muse and what type of person do you see wearing your clothes?
Alex: I have so many friends with creative pursuits in Richmond and they all inspire me. One in particular is my close friend and ambient witch pop musician Gemtone, who has been incredibly encouraging of Morning Portal and debuts many of my pieces at her performances. I like to think someone who wears Morning Portal is a very strong creative individual. Gemtone embodies that to me.
INK: Have you ever considered branching out into other areas of fashion design, like accessories or other projects?
Alex: I’ve crafted a series of brass armored rings and I’ve recently collaborated with Lonely Pine Jewelry to create a collection of resin rings. I am also collaborating with Atlantic Desolation on a Morning Portal zine that will be released very soon! I’d like for Morning Portal to be a larger creative project in addition to the clothing line.
INK: What's your earliest memory with fashion?
Alex: I think this all started in high school when I made my first 6 piece collection inspired by space aliens. From an early age, I’ve been fascinated by clothing design from fantasy and sci-fi movies and video games. I definitely think my aesthetic will always pull from those original sources. As a shy, art kid, fashion seemed to offer opportunities to express my identity. I realized I could build my own context in the world through art and it became a very powerful tool for me to grow.
INK: Have you ever doubted pursuing a career in this industry?
Alex: Yes all the time! This industry can be complicated and problematic. I feel very much like an outsider. Morning Portal has a very slow construction process when compared to the fast pace the fashion industry operates on. I make everything myself, so these pieces take a lot of time. I enjoy having a more independent and DIY practice where I can define things my own way, on my own time.
INK: How difficult was it to execute your ideas into tangible garments and did you have to adapt any once you started making them?
Alex: I value change and transformation in my design process. When I am making a garment, I start with a specific intention, either conceptually or aesthetically inspired. As I begin to make the pattern and work with the fabric, my original idea usually goes in another direction entirely. I appreciate and celebrate the challenges that come with these changes. The result can be very surprising.
INK: What helped you grow as an artist?
Alex: Actively listening to the perspectives of other people. Taking risks and learning from my failures has helped me the most as an artist. When you feel too comfortable with your work, you’re not challenging yourself enough, you’re not learning, you’re not growing.
INK: What type of impact has being a sculpture student at VCU had on your career?
Alex: My fine art background in sculpture really influenced me to think critically about interior spaces. From there, my attention turned to the space around the body, and I began to explore a relationship between sculpture and clothes. I tend to think about clothes as a type of soft sculpture that relies on the body. Morning portal pieces are never fully complete until they're worn.
INK: Where do you see your design aesthetic in the future? Has this collection impacted that at all?
Alex: I want to continue to design garments that uplift the wearer’s state of mind by complementing movement of the body and physical comfort. In terms of aesthetic, I would like to continue to play with color, texture, and minimalism. I have a lot of collaborations in the works right now and things are already changing! I think Morning Portal will continue to evolve into something I can’t even imagine now. Change and the unfamiliar are exciting.