News / Vancouver

Vancouver Fashion Week: Designer shares struggle with depression

Minneapolis designer Samantha R. Crossland says she turned to art therapy to help her through a struggle with depression while creating her latest collection.

Black and white, texture and asymmetrical lines dominate the latest collection from fashion designer Samantha R. Crossland.

Contributed

Black and white, texture and asymmetrical lines dominate the latest collection from fashion designer Samantha R. Crossland.

When Samantha R. Crossland sees her latest collection debut at Vancouver Fashion Week on Thursday, she expects to feel a sense of relief.

Although the Minneapolis-based fashion designer, who designs under the name Samantha Rei, often tries to tell a story through her work, she said this is the first time her creations will be telling her own story.

“This is a very personal collection,” Crossland told Metro. “It’s probably the most vulnerable I’ve ever been. I call it my therapy collection.”

Samantha R. Crossland, who designs under the name Samantha Rei, is debuting her latest collection at Vancouver Fashion Week on Thursday.

Contributed

Samantha R. Crossland, who designs under the name Samantha Rei, is debuting her latest collection at Vancouver Fashion Week on Thursday.

Over a period of about 16 months, Crossland said she struggled with depression— the worse she said she has experienced since her last bout seven years ago.

“It’s just one of those things— you feel it coming on, you think it’s going to be all right but then it just doesn’t go away,” she said.

Not keen on the idea of taking medication, Crossland said she turned to her art as a creative outlet of choice.

The result? A unique new collection that she described as a radical departure from her previous work.

Originally an alternative designer, Crossland began her fashion career in 2000 with her label “Blasphemina’s closet,” which she described as being influenced by lolita fashion, a street style that originated in the 1980s in Tokyo’s Harajuku district.

Looking for a change in 2013, her design aesthetic took a turn when she closed that label and started fresh with her new label, which she described as feminine and whimsical.

This season, Crossland designs are again a new style for her. While her usual pieces are ultra colourful, her new collection is entirely black and white with a couture flair, asymmetrical lines and tons of texture.

“Weirdly, once I finished it, I felt better for the first time,” she said. “I’d been on the up and up, but I feel awesome now like I used to. Sometimes artists just need to get it out.”

The decision to open up about her struggle with depression wasn’t an easy one. At first, Crossland said she was concerned people would view her work differently.

 “A lot of people view artists as two different things: either their identity is depression, or they’re fine,” she explained. “I was really worried that if I said anything, people would see me as this depressed person when I’m not. I’m a happy, bubbly person but sometimes happy, bubbly people get bogged down by darkness.”

After talking to friends and family, however, who encouraged her to share her struggle, she changed her mind.

Crossland said she hopes others who may have mental health issues feel supported when they hear her story and see her designs this week.

Samantha Rei hits the runway at Vancouver Fashion Week at 6:45 p.m. Thursday.

More on Metronews.ca