FALL 2023

Morgan Cardwell's "LAMELLA" explores the intrinsic connection between humans and the natural world as expressed through fractal patterns, natural imagery, and topographic textiles. Taking inspiration from the forms and patterns of fungi, flora, fluidity, and land contours, this collection seeks to explore what makes us human - our emotions. Empathy, awe and curiosity act as a lens to view our connection with the world around us.



This look visualizes the way water would flow around and morph into a human body, similar to the eroded carving of canyons by river currents.


Set on top of a modern recreation of a 17th century stay pattern-turned-bodysuit, this large skirt frame was inspired by the curtain-like fruiting body of the Ileodictyon cibarium fungi.


Inspired by the growth patterns of bracket fungi, this dress utilized a variety of scaled flounces and gathered drapes to recreate a fractal  “bloom” distribution.


Constructed with patterns derived from topographic maps of the Blue Ridge mountains, a location dear to my childhood. Each panel was created with strategic seaming to allow for maximum movement, enhancing the dynamic fractal patterns.


Laser cut from 4mm wool felt sheets, these branching motifs are derived from lilypad vascular systems.


Humans have evolved codependently with nature for our entire existence, yet in the past two-hundred years we have almost entirely severed our connection.  We’ve created a chaotic world that isn’t aligned to the way our brains cognitively function.

We’ve become arguably more irritable, less sociable, more narcissistic. (1) Drug prescriptions have skyrocketed. One in four middle-aged American women takes or has an antidepressant. One in fourteen children takes a drug for emotional or behvioral problems, reflecting about a fivefold increase since 1994. (2)

We need to reconnect.


Reflecting on the vast range of emotions humans can experience and our relationship with the natural world. Through an interconnected state, we can better empathize with other people, our role in the world, and the environment.



Fractal (noun): A curve or geometric figure, each part of which has the same statistical character as the whole.

Fractals are the only type of patternt hat can be both restorative and stimulating, simultaneously. Current research suggests that the benefits of fractals are amplified when they are dynamic, opening up a new world of exploration in the motion-filled world of fashion design.


Tool to influence emotions and create a sense of “awe.” Effects the body, emotions, and cultural connotations. 


The happiness hormone. Proper levels can make you feel happier, calmer, more focused, and less anxious.


The feel-good hormone. Can be increased through activities that bring joy or though a healthy lifestyle


During my preliminary research for my thesis collection I examined sources of fractal patterns that serve functional purposes. I was fascinated by the distribution patterns in vascular systems that form fractals. I used the visually stunning veins on lily pads to create this motif.


Continuing on my exploration of the sculptural capabilities of wool felt that I started in undergraduate, I then laser cut the lily pad pattern into 1/8” felt sheets in a variety of scales.

I then wanted a solution for covering the burnt edge of the felt so I attached thin strips of red leather to the edges for a pop of color.



I then played with drapes on a stretch base dress to see how the felt holds shape over time and how the pattern can best be amplified. I found that the felt lost structure over time with the thinness of this particular set of motifs.

I decided to switch approaches and create a joined textile with the motifs prior to draping rather than tacking them directly on something. This approach felt more integrated and intentional.