Destinee Macklin is well acquainted with fate. The detective-turned-seamstress has weathered more than her share of life’s twists and turns. From chronic illness to mental health, Macklin faces her challenges head-on, using her talent as a fashion designer to encourage others to do the same. “I’m not afraid because I know that this was destined. All of this was preordained,” she says.
Macklin’s story begins in 2018 when she performed a routine traffic stop while on duty. That night changed her world forever. The traffic stop led to a situation requiring her to chase an armed suspect on foot. In the process, Macklin was hit by a truck. “I didn’t break anything, I was just sick,” she recalls. In the following months, Macklin found herself limping and feeling unusually cold. Unsure of the cause, she continued to work—earning an offer to step into her dream role as a homicide detective.
Six months after the accident, Macklin finally received a diagnosis for her symptoms: Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). CRPS is a rare disease that causes chronic pain, often interfering with the ability to move through life without physical complications. “It spreads like cancer, debilitating you and getting into your organs,” Macklin explains. A battery pack in her back connects to wires that attach to her skull, allowing electricity to stimulate her nervous system in the event of random paralysis.
The diagnosis was a tough blow for Macklin, as it forced her to turn down the homicide detective job she’d been working towards since 2013. Her doctors told her that in order to stay healthy, Macklin would have to remain active. “The minute I stop moving, I’m bedridden,” she says. So Macklin began to sew. “Sewing is therapeutic to the body and mind,” she shares. “It’s a distraction from the pain.” Her one-of-a-kind pieces began to garner attention, securing her a spot in Baltimore’s 2020 Fashion Week.
When concerns over COVID-19 canceled the event, Macklin switched gears and began to make masks. She shipped them all over the country, making so many that news stations took note and began to tell her story.
Since then, she’s launched a brand named after her late father and started on her newest collection: “Mirror X Mirror.” Debuting at LA Fashion Week, the collection will speak to the hurdles Macklin has overcome. Each piece is hand cut and sewn by Macklin herself and almost every piece has a message. “Fashion should make you feel something or teach you something,” she says. Each design is one of one: Macklin makes no duplicates so each piece is truly a work of art.
Not only will Macklin be telling her story through her work on the runway, but she’s also planning her own outfit around representation to wear to the event. “I’m representing so many: People with chronic illness, injured law enforcement officers, LGBTQ+ creators, and Black women,” she says. She wants to ensure that people learn about CRPS and understand the importance of mental health.
“In the darkest time in your life, you can find your light,” she says. But you have to be willing to ask for help when you need it. Apart from CRPS, Macklin’s accident caused PTSD, anxiety, and depression. “In the African American community, we have this belief that you’re crazy if you get help. I say you’re crazy if you don’t get help,” she says. Macklin credits her therapist with supporting her transition into her new reality as a fashion designer living with a chronic illness.
As she prepares to debut this new collection, Macklin is proud of the life she leads today and is looking forward to sharing more of it with her followers via social media. “I evolve every five seconds,” she says. “I’m not near finished, I’m just starting.” Eventually, she hopes to publish a book about her journey and help others see the beauty in following their destiny.
Learn more about Destinee Macklin on her Instagram and be sure to check out her new collection, “Mirror X Mirror” at LA Fashion Week on October 8.