Staying Active With Laura Morgan
Laura Morgan is a force of nature. Shooting herself in the remote wilds of her current Martha’s Vineyard hideaway, the model, photographer, costume stylist and writer wears the season’s finest Activewear to explore the natural rhythms of her rugged coastal surroundings.
As a devoted yogi and multi-faceted creative, Irish-born Laura began her career as a house model for Alexander McQueen, before working as a wardrobe stylist for Madonna and a costume designer on major feature films. Now turning her focus to personal projects, Laura describes the importance of mind-body connection: “Part of what I love about physical activity is the creative aspect of it. Exploring the different things that my body can do. So much emotion is expressed through movement and the body.” Keen to learn more, we asked Laura to share her advice on staying active in all areas of her life.
How did you get your start in fashion?
I was roughly 18 and living in Israel. I needed a visa so I signed up with a modelling agency.
What was it like working with Alexander McQueen in those early days?
Wild. Creative. Long days and nights. There was the endless cigarette smoking, tunes that would keep your heart rate up, the hashing and rehashing of ideas that would formulate into samples, to be reconfigured again into more samples until the final exquisite piece would be shown. Often the sample would be re-created whilst I was wearing it. Every day was different! I worked with some of the most wonderfully talented and brilliant humans. It was a supportive, creative, loving village that built those collections.
Can you tell us a bit about your work as a costume designer, particularly your time with Madonna?
I had just finished costume designing an indie film when I met the wonderfully talented costume designer Arianne Phillips. Arianne asked me if I would like to work with her on Madonna’s tour. I said yes and that began my ten-year year relationship with film, fashion and Madonna, which pretty much took up my entire life over that time period. I am very grateful to Arianne for giving me the opportunity to walk in that world of experience.
What instigated the change from costume design and what are you working on now?
I had a big wake up call when I was 39. What did I want the next ten years of my life to look like? After the film Kingsman 2 I was asked to costume design a big studio film. My entire body screamed “NO” so I listened to that. I’m a workaholic and a big thinker, so if I work on a project it’s all I think about. I asked myself: “What do I want to be thinking about now? What is my purpose?” One life and all that.
I took a year off from looking for ‘work’ and followed where my heart wanted to go. I am a firm believer, especially now, in taking a step back and seeing what arrives. And lots has! I’m writing a book that I will turn into a screenplay, and collaborating with my brother on a photographic project. I am also studying the effects of trauma on society and the brain, social science and Eastern philosophy which is feeding into the story that I am writing.
Can you tell us a bit about your current routine?
I’m freelance so routine is a bit of a struggle. What I do always keep is my morning routine: I wake up, make coffee, write at least three A4 pages of whatever needs to be written. I practice 20 minutes to two hours of yoga, and I meditate for 15 minutes. I’ve just started the Wim Hof method. I walk in nature, even if it’s just for five minutes. I make sure to speak with friends and family. Honestly some days I have no idea where the time goes as I seem to get bugger all done!
What about your yoga practice?
I’d been off and on with yoga since I was about 16. It always helped me but I had other things that overpowered my life back then, so it often fell to the wayside. I properly started to practice all parts of yoga again when I stopped working as a costume designer. Yoga is made up of eight parts - asanas, the physical practice, being just one of them. I have to practice every part of yoga every day in order to stay steady.
Have you always been an active person?
Yes. I love movement and working with my body. I have a lot of anxiety and deal with a lot of noise in my head, plus I write a lot so I forget that I actually have limbs. A way for me to get out of my head is to get into my body.
How has your relationship to your body changed over time?
I listen to it a lot more, and I question myself when I’m being negative about it. “Whose gaze are you using to tell yourself that your thighs are too fat?” The answer is always: “Not mine.” I encourage people to notice what they say to themselves and to others. To notice if they own their thoughts and beliefs. I wrote a piece about what it has been like to come back into the modelling industry as a 40-year-old woman.
Living in such a beautiful place, how do you find your surroundings influence your creative work?
Massively! I could not write the piece I am writing if I did not know I could walk out and be in nature. Nature gives me the space and support to breathe, feel, think, express, expel. I get to sing, write, cry, dance, scream, laugh, play and be silent with no judgment. It is the only place on this planet where I feel truly safe.
Are there any principles or practices you live by?
Be kind. Be authentic. Be compassionate. Question my beliefs. Listen to what my body is telling me. Life is art. Laugh. Repeat my mantras: “I am safe. I am loved” and: “My body, my choice, my life, my destiny.”