Laura Cartledge meets a designer who stitches together textiles and tough topics.
For Hurstpierpoint’s Isaac Raymond being a fashion designer is about a lot more than clothes.
“Every garment has a deeper meaning behind it, for me to do it there has to be more going on,” he explains, “I like to connect with it.”
His latest collection called ‘Revolution of Bravery’, which premiered at Brighton Fashion Week and was also the subject of a BBC documentary, beautifully demonstrates Isaac’s unconventional inspiration.
“I wanted to do a collection to deal with mental health and how society deals with it, particularly in youth,” he reveals.
The pieces, along with 15 new designs, are heading for London this summer where they will appear in a catwalk show in aid of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation – which is poignant for Isaac as it was the popstar who first sparked his interest in fashion.
“It is funny how things work out,” he confesses. “It all started with an interest in pop culture and when I started out I found Lady Gaga very inspirational.
“I began looking at the designers she was wearing like Alexander McQueen and Galliano.
“From there I evolved as a designer, grew my own interests like culture and nature and science,” adds Isaac.
“I want to have the whole package and for me fabric is a big part of that.
“I love mixing them and creating hybrids, using liquid latex with leather and lace. I love the process and the problem solving.”
One of the revolution jackets certainly posed a challenge due to its big shoulders, with Isaac recalling how it took 12 practice versions to ‘get the shape and the fit right’.
“Without Caroline Gration, my mentor, I wouldn’t be able to do any of this. She has taught me everything including how to make patterns,” he insists, “before that me and mum just tried our best.”
Isaac modestly credits his ‘little fashion family’ as being key to his creations.
“To have so many amazing people surround me and support me and help me along the way is a blessing,” he enthuses.
“Mum is always there before a show to help me finish off hand-sewing beads, dad does all the PR and driving me around places and my friend Alice is the emotional support.
“There are so many people that are a part of the collection.”
It comes as no surprise then to hear how much he enjoys being able to enjoy the catwalks with them all.
“The shows are the celebration of the last months of making,” smiles Isaac. “The thing I find the most exciting is seeing the audience’s reaction, they haven’t just seen some pretty pieces on pretty models they have felt it, they know the emotions I have put into it.
“The best thing for me from this experience was having emails from parents saying they connected with it and their children connected with it – plus seeing the designs they had done inspired by the documentary,” he explains.
“I have saved them all so I can look at
them, they inspire me knowing that they connected with it.”
This is important for Isaac as it is highly personal work, drawing on both his own experiences of being both autistic and bullied.
The fact Isaac was diagnosed with Asperger’s at the age of seven and his young age – he turned 18 at the end of January – have been frequently referred to along his journey so far.
With that in mind I had to ask if he wished the two subjects would take a back seat so the spotlight could just fall on his work.
“The autism, I know, is a big part of it and the press like to run with it but it feels like it is their main interest not the fashion,” he replies.
“Whereas the age thing doesn’t bother me, it is an honour to be able to have had the chance to do so much at a young age.”
For more information on Isaac’s collections and shows, visit
Backstage at Brighton Fashion Week. Pictures: Jean-Luc Brouard
Catwalk pictures: Malcolm Tam.