Morrigana Pehlke is an Underground Couture Fashion Designer born in 1981 and raised in Perth County. Morrigana Pehlke started her career as a costume designer and over 5 years has amassed over 150 costumes from all eras including a set of Steampunk and Fantasy inspired work. Morrigana’s Steampunk designs have been published in several books, and her costumed events are a sought after experience in her home town of Stratford, Ontario.
I have the pleasure to interview Morrigana Pehlke on the occasion of her participation in the new Art Show “VERSE” on May 25th, presented by RAW: KITCHENER-WATERLOO.
Morrigana Pehlke Interview:
“There are ebbs and flows in the art world. You must learn to love both to be a success.”
Morrigana Pehlke, could you please tell us a bit about yourself and your universe?
I’m a 35 year old mom of 3, born in Stratford, Ontario where I currently reside. My kids keep me so busy, some days it’s hard to find the energy to be inspired! I also work a part time administration job to help pay the bills. Let’s face it, they don’t call it “starving artist” for nothing!
Were you always interested in art growing up? How did you come to Costume design?
When I was in school I wanted to be a journalist. I wanted to travel around the globe and write stories for Time Magazine. The year I graduated, my English teacher (who was my favourite teacher that year) told me that if I wanted to travel that bad, I should become a stewardess. My dream died in a few off-hand words. It was that moment I decided not to pursue post-secondary education as well. However, out of that, I did learn a lesson…be careful what you say to young people, they take everything seriously!
I started costume designing when I was 28. I wanted to make my own Halloween costume. I had inherited sewing bits and ends from my paternal grandmother who, when I was a baby, had been a seamstress for the Stratford Festival Theater. I guess it was her that started me on my path, despite that it was long after she had passed.
Do you have or have had a mentor or other special person to guide you?
As cliché as it sounds, my mom has always been my mentor and guide. She’s been there to encourage my dreams, and openly discuss where I might be going wrong in my path. She’s had great ideas about paths to take and I’ve learned a lot from her about business, and diplomacy. She’s also taught me how to fight for what I believe in. I’m grateful to her for everything!
The costumes you design are very creative and seem beyond reality. Where do you find your inspiration?
I find my inspiration from everywhere: movies, video games and television to name a few. I love historically and fantasy inspired things, including costume design, makeup and hair design. Art can be found in anything that you can think of. I’ve played with the idea of doing more headpieces and shoes to go with my outfits!
How has your style changed over the years?
I started off being very passionate about Steampunk. The idea of a Victorian Future drew my like nothing ever had. Before I knew it, my work was being photographed and published in several Steampunk inspired books, all of which can now be found in Chapters and on Amazon!
After the TV show The Tudors came out, I fell out of the Steampunk phase and into a historical one. I immediately designed and created nearly 20 costumes that drew from the histories of British and French Kings and their ladies.
Most recently, I have become passionate about fantastic evening wear. I have been commissioned for a few historically inspired wedding dresses, and the more I delve into the art of couture, the more inspired I am to see how wild I can get with it.
What are you currently working on? What is your dream project?
I am currently working on several high end couture costume commissions for clients, and I’m starting to design my costume for Halloween this year. As my birthday is on Halloween, I go big every year to really showcase what I can do. There’s never been a Halloween that I did not dress up on!
Is artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
I’ve never found anything in my life to be lonely. Though I prefer to work alone in my designing and creation process, I’ve enjoyed the partnership I’ve gotten with Maaike. I have always had large numbers of people interested in volunteering to model my designs, and everyone has always seemed so supportive of my grandiose dreams!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Persevere! There are ebbs and flows in the art world. You must learn to love both to be a success.