COLUMBUS, Ohio — Crystal Zhang started struggling with depression during her sophomore year of college. 

What You Need To Know

  • Crystal Zhang has loved fashion since she was a little girl 

  • Her metamorphosis collection is inspired by butterflies and nature 

  • She used fabric and color to mirror the transformation you go through with mental health

  • Zhang wants people to be inspired to not feel alone 

As a little girl, you’d find Crystal Zhang dressing and designing her barbie dolls. She came to the U.S. from China as an exchange student in high school.

She started at the Columbus College of Art and Design to focus and hone in on her passion for fashion, but when she started her sophomore year, things became difficult. She started struggling with depression, and days started to feel harder and longer.

In response, she honed in on her passion even more as she began tapping into resources around campus. Two years later, it would be her mental health journey that would inspire her senior collection. “I used the kind of dark red to kind of express the anxiety that we have when we’re going through depression,” said Zhang. 

She would name her collection 'Metamorphosis' after the process butterflies go through. Nature was integral in her mental health journey. “When I’m not feeling happy, I like to go to nature,” said Zhang. Her first few pieces used a lot of fabric to represent the feeling of being weighed down or overwhelmed. She also uses darker, more drab colors to mimic various textures in nature, like tree bark. 

The collection reflects the cyclical nature of metamorphosis and as the line continues, fabrics get lighter and colors get brighter to show that there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. “Even though the process is stressful, the outcome is good,” said Zhang. 

Zhang said that she feels that transformation isn’t singular but cyclical, and wants her clothes to inspire people to feel better. “When working on those garments, it's also a process of me transforming. I want people to know that this doesn’t have to be the end of the world,” said Zhang. 

Crystal Zhang graduated from the Columbus College of Art and Design this past month and is hoping to enter her collection into this year's Columbus Fashion Week.