Raymond Banks prepares to debut his designs at the Pink the Runway Fashion Show

A desire to have an African print bowtie and a YouTube tutorial is how Raymond Banks, a junior at Alcorn State University, became obsessed with fashion.

Three years ago on a Saturday night, Raymond was getting his outfit ready for his church’s Black History Program. While coordinating his style, he realized that an African accessory would be a great addition to his ensemble, but it was late and all of the stores in his hometown of Vicksburg, Mississippi had closed for the day. So Raymond took it upon himself to bring his vision to life.

“My mom had some African cloth and I watched a YouTube tutorial on how to make a bowtie,” said Raymond, a mass communications major. “That’s how I made my first design and since then, I’ve loved fashion.”

Raymond has turned his love for fashion into a budding career. He is slated to debut his accessory line at the Pink the Runway 2016 fashion show Sunday, Oct. 23 at the Thalia Mara Hall in Jackson, Mississippi. The pre-show starts at 5:30 and the show starts at 6:30. His collection includes bowties, neckties and casual shoes. Proceeds from the fashion show will benefit breast cancer patients and survivors.

Although accessories are his forte, Raymond is also a clothing designer, stylist, model photographer and owner of an accessories business called The Gentlemen’s Touch. His fashion experience includes participating in the 2015 Los Angeles Style Week, the San Francisco Fashion Style Tech Weekend, where he designed a bowtie that receives vibration alerts when connected to a smart phone, and Alcorn’s student modeling team, The T.R.E.N.D.

Raymond’s fashion journey has gotten off to an impressive start. His career has been so amazing, that he often struggles to find the right words to describe his experiences.

“It’s almost hard to put into words how amazing it feels for people not only in my hometown, but thousands of miles away, to watch me display my designs. It feels great to be in the presence of international models and designers who have been in the industry for years.”

The late Patrick Kelly, who was a prominent fashion designer from Vicksburg, is who Raymond patterns his designs and style after. Kelly was voted in as a member of the Chambre Syndicale, an elite organization of designers based in Paris. He was also the first American and African-American to join the ranks of famous designers such as Saint Laurent, Lagerfeld, and Lacroix. Raymond admires Kelly’s bold style.

“His work is out of this world; it’s not your average, normal fashion. With my designs, I like to go above the norm and create things that you won’t see in a typical department store.”

In the future, Raymond said that he hopes to take his designs to China and participate in their fashion show.

To purchase tickets for The Pink the Runway 2016 Fashion Show, visit www.ticketmaster.com. To check out Raymond’s accessories, visit www.gentlemenstouch.storenvy.com.

  • Raymond resized.jpg