ap fashion: samantha black shows them how it’s done

June 22, 2011

High fashion, bright colors, chic but fun, let us introduce you to the work of Ms. Samantha Black, a fashion designer with a passion for visual arts (she also draws and paints). In her short life, Black has interned for Alexander McQueen, been the head designer for a women’s denim line, and launched her own brand, Sammy B. Designs. In this interview, she talks about her vision, New York’s fashion community, and the challenges of being a young black female designer. – Lou C-D

There’s definitely a fun and colorful vibe to your work. Tell us about the “spirit” of it, the overall style, your intent.
The Spirit of my line comes from all the things I love, such as art, different cultures, textures, traveling, architecture, bright colors and many other things. It’s a direct reflection of my personal style. The overall vibe, is feminine with a tomboy cool, sassy with an eclectic edge.

You have two clothing lines (Sammy B. Designs and Samantha Black), does it mean that you have a ready-to-wear line and a couture line? The Samantha Black section seems more sober and classy, is there a different approach for each line?
Yeah I made the decision to split my line because it just seemed a natural progression. SammyB is super funky, live, colorful, eclectic. Samantha Black is sleek, high-fashion, detailed.

Tell us about your work for Alexander McQueen? How did that come about? What exactly did you do?
I moved to London when I graduated college, and I knew I wanted to do some sort of internship….. I was hoping for Ben Sherman. Then a lady I met out there said she had a lead on a opening for McQueen. So I interviewed and got the position. For a few months I was sewing, doing patterns, dyeing etc. working in the design studio. It was amazing.

What about the fashion world in New York? Do you feel that you’re part of a community, or more of a merciless jungle? Do people help each other out, is the competition harsh?
Being a designer in NYC is very hard because there are so many talented designers about. I do feel that I am a part of a community and I’ve been blessed to meet and become friends with people who are very much willing to help me as much as they can.

You’re a young Black woman navigating the world of fashion. Is it still a challenge or do you feel that you just have the same challenges as any other designer, no matter the gender, origins, etc.?
I feel that as a young black female designer, there are challenges that others don’t have. Fashion is still def to me a man’s world and a very white world. I just stay true to myself and my design aesthetic and work extra hard and truly hope all will pay off. even with the odds against me.

Do your origins inform your work at all?
Yes, I’m Jamaican and Jamaicans are bold, colorful, take chances. I take that whole vibe and attitude and use it when designing.

What were the early inspirations that made you want to start designing? (people, events, etc.)
My early inspirations come from my family members and there crazy amazing style and grace! They dressed me, my siblings and cousins to the T for every occasion and in nothing but the best. So clothing was always an important factor in my life. But growing up I always was an artist, drawing painting, creating and when I was 16 it was suggested I look into fashion design. That’s when I knew fashion design was exactly what I wanted to do.

How do you envision the future of Sammy B. Designs?
I envision SammyB becoming a household brand. In stores worldwide. A well respected brand that is sought after season after season.

Have you worked with Kelis directly, or did she/her stylist pick one of your pieces?
Kelis and I were connected through a mutual friend who felt like she would like my pieces. They gave me full creative control just knowing that she wanted catsuits. Thankfully she liked her first order and contacted me directly when she wanted more.

Any other remarks you’d like to share with the Afro-punk online community?
I’m just really Happy to be here, the fact that people are recognizing my work and my line is a blessing and is helping me climb the ladder. So please keep supporting because I have sooooo much I plan to do. =)