Monday, January 14, 2019

Samantha Rei (Visual Arts '99) fashions a piece of history

Samantha (Crossland) Rei (Visual Arts 1999) was a contestant on Season 16 of Project Runway.

When Peggy Flanagan entered the One Minnesota Party on Saturday, January 12, 2019, as the new Minnesota Lt. Governor, she did it wearing a Samantha Rei original. Samantha (Crossland) Rei (Perpich Arts High School, Visual Arts, 1999) was a contestant on Season 16 of Project Runway.
We connected with Samantha to discuss her role in this moment of history:
Perpich: How did you get tapped to create her outfit?
Rei: The husband of a friend of a friend of a friend suggested me when they were all hanging out together and she said she wanted to tap a local designer who could make her something "badass." All of the friends collaborated to contact me and, of course, I had to say yes because not only did she seem cool [but] the people who reached out to me are amazing. Intros were made and the rest is history.
Perpich: What went into your design process?
Rei: I really wanted to take her inspiration, buffalo plaid and looking like a badass, as well as the silhouette, what I'm known for: a fitted bodice and a full skirt. I had made a dress for an Unconventional Materials Challenge at StevenBe and I really liked how it turned out so I altered the design a bit and asked if she could secure a beaded piece that I could incorporate into it to celebrate her heritage. The original beaded piece is a necklace that belonged to her godmother and I was able to turn it into a new piece without cutting off any of the beads. She liked the first sketch I sent to her so it was incredibly easy and a really good match.
Perpich: What can you tell us about the piece?
Rei: It was kind of hard to find buffalo plaid fabric that wasn't flannel. I think that was actually the hardest part of the design. I did end up finding a really great large print buffalo plaid canvas on and I love that it has so much body and structure to it. I feel like this really embodies the youth and rebellion of a young politician. Also it has pockets.
Perpich: She's certainly a historical figure, being the highest-ranking American Indian woman in a state executive office in the nation. How does it feel to be part of that history?
Rei: I'm incredibly flattered and so excited to be a part of something like this. I know this is going to make me sound super dorky but one of my biggest fictional heroes is Cinna from The Hunger Games. In a society that views aesthetic as everything, he used his styling and fashion skills for good. I'm an artist and I want to be able to use my skills to promote good things. I hope that she feels strong in the dress I made.

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