Minnesota has only produced a handful of Project Runway contestants, three to be exact. The Land of Lakes hasn't seen a designer on the reality show since Chris Straub -- seven seasons ago. Samantha Rei is here to change that, the designer has been active in the Twin Cities fashion scene for almost two decades. Since graduating from Perpich Center for Arts Education, Samantha Rei became a catalyst for Lolita style in the US, directed fashion shows and competed on the hit design show, Project Runway. Since appearing on the show Samantha Rei has been getting her girlboss on working collaborations and her new collection. It's amazing to think she almost didn't audition, we're glad she was nudged to give it one more go.
You have said fashion shows should be treated like commercials versus concerts. Why do you say that? How can we move in the right direction to achieve that?
At least in the Twin Cities, most fashion show patrons don't treat fashions shows as a business showing their new wares, which is what they are. The point of a fashion show is to present a new collection to buyers and potential customers. While they are entertaining spectacles, so are TV commercials and movie trailers. But the point of them is to a sell goods. Much of our community go to shows for fun and never intend to buy from the creators. The best way to support local is to actually buy local products. I see a lot of the same people at shows season after season, but I don't see them wearing indie designs. Contribute to the community in meaningful ways by shopping small and supporting local. Just know, in most cases, ticket sales don't go to the designers so unless you purchase from them, they likely aren't making any money. We have to keep our lights on like everyone else.
On WCCO you described your style as Vivienne Westwood meets Kate Spade. Has this always been your look?
In my current label, yes, but under my old label, Blasphemina's Closet, my style was more of an amalgam of Victorian maiden, Takuya Angel and Alice and Pirates.
Besides Lolita style, are there other aspects of Japanese popular culture you enjoy?
I like style tribes, the idea that people get together to like the same things and dress the same way. I like anime and manga (before discovering fashion, growing up I wanted to be a comic artist; I actually have another project in the works with manga-ka Tomoko Taniguchi, which I'm excited about. I've worked with her before, but this is even more exciting). I used to love J-pop and Visual Kei when I was younger.
Is there a certain piece of clothing or accessory you feel most confident in? If so, what is it?
I really like the harnesses my design bestie Apatico makes for me. I also have a very favorite pair of boots. They are black and white steel toed boots from John Fluevog that make me feel like I can take on the world.
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