Isaac Raymond, The neglected issue of mental health

Being labelled with a stigma can be intimidating for anyone, particularly a young adult. However Isaac Raymond, a 17 year old diagnosed with autism, shows us how having a mental disorder helped him discover his dream and make it a reality. He strives for fashion design with a difference, aiming to demonstrate, through his creations, the neglected issue of mental health. Isaac is an inspiration to many other individuals who may feel restricted by their underlying illnesses. In his most recent designs he proves that by embracing your weaknesses you can achieve what you desire. I recently had the chance to interview Isaac and discuss his views on his latest collection ‘Revolution of Bravery’.

Image 1- Isaac Raymond

Hi Isaac, thank you for agreeing to talk to me today. My first question for you would be have you always known that you wished to be involved in the fashion industry?

I’ve always admired the idea of transformation through clothes. When I was younger I would never go out of the house if I wasn’t in fancy dress or some form of theatrical clothing. By the age of about 11/12 I really started to get into the idea of fashion and I looked into different designers such as Alexander McQueen and Thierry Mugler which furthered my interest in the fashion world.

So a lot of your interest in clothing has developed from a more dramatic, theatrical fashion?

Yes, the darker side of fashion has always really inspired me and this idea can be seen in my current collection ‘Revolution of Bravery’ which focusses on portraying mental health. The collection starts off very dark with lots of punk and art references; such as slashes in fabric and black liquid latex. Then it progresses to lighter colours such as whites and silvers which show tranquillity and the process of overcoming mental illnesses, developing to a more angelic state.

I understand you were diagnosed with autism at a young age, would you tell us a bit more about how you managed to deal with this and how it motivated you in your designs?

I feel it used to hold me back in social situations when I was a lot younger, but as I’ve grown up its really helped me a lot with dedication towards my craft as a designer. It has enhanced my creative mind and given me the ability to see things from other people’s perspective, by being an outsider from the rest of society.

Yes, it does sound as if your autism has been a big part of your inspiration for design and that’s a great outcome. I also understand that you’re about to become the youngest designer to take part in Brighton Fashion Week, which is truly amazing. Could you tell us a bit more about the preparation involved and the journey you’ve had leading up to the event?

The collection that I’ll be showing at the Brighton Fashion Week, ‘Revolution of Bravery’, is a preview of the fall collection that will be displayed in London next year on June 4th. This whole journey started when the BBC started filming a documentary about me and my experience in preparing for Brighton Fashion Week. It’s been such a pleasurable experience to work with the brand and I’ve been able to adopt some more sustainable techniques into the way I work and learnt a lot about myself as a designer.

Image 2- Isaac Raymond

It sounds like it’s been a very busy and time consuming few months for you then?

Yes it has been but my mum’s been amazing and she always helps me complete the details needed on my garments. Someone else who’s really helped me out by is my mentor Caroline Gration from the Brighton Fashion School. She’s taught me how to make the silhouettes I’ve been wanting to make for years but couldn’t as I didn’t have the technical skills needed, she’s been a big part of my whole experience, definitely.

Where else do you get your inspiration from?

I look a lot to art and the world around me, for example the other day I was washing up and the pattern of the soap suds were swirling into the Fibonacci pattern and I found that really inspirational. I get my inspiration from a variety of different media.

So, when you were at school you didn’t necessarily have the best experience with other young people and suffered from bullying. With your new collection being about raising awareness for mental illnesses it is becoming more evident that mental illness is something that is quite often overlooked due to people not understanding it. Would you be able to tell us how this has also helped develop your ideas and creations in your new collection?

Well it started in primary school when I started getting picked on, and what I wanted to do with this collection was really bring out a wide variety of different mental illnesses and to empower those individuals who may have these illnesses. One way that I’m able to do this is through connections with other brands, for example my fall collection next year in London is for the ‘Born This Way Foundation’ by Lady Gaga which offers a lot of support for those who have these illnesses and may be being bullied by others.

The message that you’re getting across to society really is such a profound and meaningful one, it’s very inspirational to observe. Thank you for talking with me today Isaac, I just have one last question about where you see the ‘Isaac Raymond’ brand evolving from now?

Next year I’m actually moving part time to London, which will give me the ability to do a few internships and work more hands on with a few designers in order to gain more experience and see how the industry works. After that, the dream is to set up my own label in London under the name ‘Isaac Raymond’, then to go into production to make clothes for all the wonderful people out there. To see other people wearing my garments would just be incredible.

Image 3- Isaac Raymond



Words: Megan Goodey

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Tags: #trends #fashion #design #autism #raiseawarenessformentalhealth

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