Making Mental Health Fashionable

Mental illness awareness at Fashion Week?

Fashion can be beautiful, inspiring, moving. But now, thanks to Erykah Badu and Kerby Jean-Raymond, it’s also empowering and educational.

Badu, singer and all-around creative, and Jean-Raymond, the brains behind high-end fashion label Pyer Moss, partnered to create a clothing line dedicated to spreading mental health awareness.


Badu was drawn to Jean-Raymond’s creative direction because of the message DOUBLE BIND, the line, is conveying.

“DOUBLE BIND is a term that describes two conflicting ideas,” Badu says. “Bi-polar disorder or depression is a subject that is discussed very little in our community [the black community] and is over shadowed by what people would rather call crazy. As racism and sexism and genderism and prejudice take the main stage on our screens, perhaps, recognize that depression may be at the very root of it all. Hurt people…HURT people.”

Although Jean-Raymond’s new line has raised quite a few eyebrows, the designer is used to his work ruffling feathers.

To drive home just how much the black community needs to embrace mental illness awareness, Jean-Raymond dedicated part of his collection to MarShawn McCarrel, a Black Lives Matter activist who killed himself on the steps of the Ohio State House. To remember the activist’s life, Jean-Raymond had a model carry a sign printed with McCarrel’s last social media posting: “My demons won today. I’m sorry.”

The rest of Jean-Raymond’s new collection contained “sweatshirts that advised people to seek professional help should they experience a list of emotions and neutral colored tops with a statement the designer probably heard once before: ‘You don’t have any friends in L.A,’”  Teen Vogue reports.

Black Lives Matter

Jean-Raymond’s collections are personal. The Fall 2o16 collection was a direct response to the depression he felt following his spring 2016 show, which featured clothing inspired by Black Lives Matter.

While Jean-Raymond was inspired to creatively reflect on the movement because of many personal experiences, there was one instance that really influenced his spring 2016 line.

In early February, the designer told Vice a terrifying story.  Jean-Raymond was walking through his neighborhood one evening. He had recently had his arm set in a cast. As he was walking, the designer lifted his casted arm to scratch his face and immediately heard someone yell, “Put it down!”

“He turned to his left and saw three police officers pointing their firearms at his body. They thought his cast was a gun,” Vice reports.

“I felt like I wanted to piss on myself,” Jean-Raymond says. “I just yelled, ‘It’s a cast! It’s a cast! It’s a cast!'”

Mental Health Fashion

While all of the clothing and accessories in Jean-Raymond and Badu’s Fall 2016 line were related to mental health awareness, the designers also wanted to convey that these hidden diseases hurt everyone, Huffington Post reports.

“Kerby [Jean-Raymond] wanted to communicate that working-class people deal with depression every day,” Badu says. “The deeper conversation needed to be had and I think through this performance art and fashion show it was discussed. And hopefully creates a little dialogue about it — a little more than usual.”

Obviously, Jean-Raymond is making waves in the fashion world for good reason. We can’t wait to see what he will creatively interpret next year.

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Image via Pyer Moss’ Facebook page

Abbie Stutzer

Writer, editor, and owner of Ginchy!, a freelance writing and editing company, and home funeral hub. Adores smart sex ed, sustainable ag, spooky history, women's health, feminism, horror, wine, and sci-fi.