Perpich News

Samantha Rei (Visual Arts 1999) Fashions a Piece of History

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

January 14, 2019

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 (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.