Behind The Chic

The Art of Set Design: Tracy Morgan


Brooklyn-based artist Tracy Morgan has a gift for transforming an ordinary studio space—from the floors to the windows to the walls—into a destination. A painter/set designer with over 25 years of experience in the fashion industry, she began working with the Chico’s creative team one year ago. Her keen eye for color, texture and found objects was perfect for this month’s Journey to Jaipur. Here, she offers a peek into her world—where art brings fashion to life. 

What does a day in your life look like?

I start with coffee, then meditate, and check my emails. If I’m not collaborating on a project, I go to my studio to paint.

What inspires your artwork?

Flowers and foliage.  Long walks through New York City. And travel—my job has taken me to some of most magical places.  

Describe your creative process. 

I take a trip to the flower market, then return to my studio and create a still life incorporating objects I’ve found. They can be from that trip to the flower market (I find amazing things at the local flea market) or from other places I’ve traveled—beaches, islands, Africa. I follow that up with several days of painting. And I always listen to WBGO public jazz radio when I’m working in the studio.

Which artists influence you?

Italian painter and printmaker Giorgio Morandi is a major influencebut I  have SO MANY favorites! I love the work of the painters Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Joan Mitchell, Karyn Lyons, Alice Neel,  and Alma Thomas, to name a few. When it comes to ceramics and sculptures, I look to Julie Lee, Sahar Khoury, Sara Lucas, Franz West, and Constantin Brancusi for inspiration.

Jaipur-inspired backdrop for Chico’s Spring 2020 collection, designed by Tracy Morgan.

What elements did you include in your set design to bring our Jaipur-inspired collection to life? 

To create the look of India, I incorporated rich dark wood elements and carvings. Then, I layered in natural-dyed rugs in rich tones. For the walls and floors, I used a simple, neutral color and texture that would provide the perfect backdrop and not compete with the saturated colors of the collection. The neutral background also kept the focus on the special details of the products (like embroidery).

What are your go-to fashion pieces?

I like clothing that is loose-fitting and relaxed—an oversize tunic worn with vintage, wide-leg army chinos and flats. My absolute favorite accessories are a navy silk scarf and antique jewelry I found while traveling.

How would you describe your personal style?

Eccentric.

What does it mean to be chic?

To me it’s seeing a person who just has “IT.” They have an inner sense of self-confidence. It’s not so much what they are wearing, but how they’re wearing it. This quote from Diana Vreeland captures it:

Style—all who have it share one thing: originality.

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