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Robert Lee Morris is a jewelry designer and sculptor who attributes much of his inspiration to forms he admires in nature. His designs have been made in gold, silver, and bronze and he is known for his 24 karat matte gold plating and rich deep red copper and green patina. He has collaborated or designed collections for fashion designers Geoffrey Beene, Kansai Yamamoto, Calvin Klein, Anne Klein, Karl Lagerfeld, Michael Kors, and Donna Karan.
He was born in Nuremberg, Germany, where his parents were stationed after the end of World War II. His father was in the US Air Force. They were also stationed in Japan when he was nine for four years and later in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He graduated from Beloit College with honors in 1969. By the time Morris turned 18 years old, his family had moved 23 times around the world.
Morris was discovered in 1971 by New York gallery owner Joan Sonnabend and first exhibited at her art jewelry outpost in the Plaza Hotel called Sculpture to Wear. Shortly after the closing of Sculpture to Wear in 1977, he opened the first edition of Artwear Gallery at 28 East 74th Street on the Upper East Side, near the couture district on Madison Avenue. Artwear relocated to SoHo in August 1978 where it would be surrounded by contemporary art galleries.
A few years later a second, larger location opened nearby, followed by another on Madison Avenue in what is now the Sony building. A location on Königsallee in Düsseldorf, Germany was short-lived. Morris closed Artwear in 1995 and the RLM Robert Lee Morris Gallery opened in September 1995 at 400 West Broadway, focusing exclusively on Morris’s own work.
His career took off after he appeared on the cover of Vogue in 1976. Vogue featured his work over a period of seven years in 49 consecutive issues.
Known primarily for his collaborations with leading fashion designers, especially Geoffrey Beene, Karl Lagerfeld, Kansai Yamamoto, Calvin Klein, Anne Klein, Michael Kors, and Donna Karan, Morris has designed Karan’s new perfume bottle “Gold” for Estée Lauder. He also designed a special edition lipstick and compact for Elisabeth Arden in 1990.
In 2007, Robert Lee Morris was the first jewelry designer to ever be awarded the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). He won the Coty Award in 1981 for his collection for Calvin Klein. He has received two other CFDA awards for accessory design, in 1985 and 1994. Robert Lee Morris developed a jewelry collection for Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen’s clothing line, Elizabeth & James. He has a presence on QVC television, selling RLM Studio, designed exclusively for QVC. In 2011, Manhattan-based, Haskell Jewels, LLC announced its acquisition of Robert Lee Morris.
Robert Lee Morris launched his Soho line at national department stores in September 2012. His higher end Collection line was launched in September 2012 at fine retailers nationwide. The Collection launched with Morris’s first national ad campaign in American fashion magazines, including Vogue, W Magazine and Elle.
In 2017, MAC Cosmetics collaborated with Robert Lee Morris on a limited collection of products, lipstick, powder, blush, and brushes, all in signature sculptural forms. Acquired in November 2017 by Global Brands Group, the Robert Lee Morris brand is poised to expand into many new categories, home, leather goods, watches, and other accessory areas.