For the average person, clothing is just a necessity. However, for many of the designers behind the clothes we wear, each item is a masterpiece that tells a story. This is the case for Raúl Del Castillo, a designer from Acapulco, Mexico, now residing in Florida. Growing up, Del Castillo always gravitated towards art, and at an early age, he found exactly what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. “Since I was very young, I knew I wanted to be an artist. I dwell in different aspects of art, but when I got to middle school, I discovered I wanted to be a fashion designer. Then, in my senior year of high school, I was able to enroll in a part-time class at Orlando Technical College, where I learned how to sew. It was very challenging at first, but I managed to succeed. I was so excited to be doing what I always dreamed of.”
While learning to sew was a bit of a challenge for Del Castillo, finding inspiration for his designs was not. After years of living in Acapulco and waiting for his immigration paperwork to be approved, he was able to move to America at the age of twelve. This experience inspires every design he creates: “I always make sure to remember where I came from. The colors and the aromas of Acapulco always come to mind when I’m designing. I go to my happy place, and that’s usually some memory of living in Mexico. From there, I just let the magic happen.”
Magic is exactly what Del Castillo is making out of his clothing line. He is already creating a name for himself in Central Florida by participating in prestigious events in places such as Park Avenue Fashion Week, where he was an emerging designer finalist. He also played a huge part at The Art of Fashion, an event which benefits The Michael J. Fox Foundation and is organized by the popular Orlando blogger, Tonya Walker, of TheShoeMaven.com. Walker was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease herself and, after hearing her empowering story, Del Castillo knew he needed to design her dress for the event. “I reached out to Tonya saying I found her background fascinating, and I just love a strong and powerful woman. I offered to design a dress for her, and the rest is history. She is a doll to work for. The dress I did for The Art of Fashion was named ‘Pandora’s Box’ because at the end, when you open the box, all you can have is hope–hope that a cure for Parkinson’s will be found.”
Del Castillo not only uses his talents for a good cause, but also to empower people no matter what their background, size, or sexual orientation might be. “My job is to make the person I’m designing for feel special. There is too much hate going around, and in order for us to move forward, we need to learn to be more kind and compassionate. We often focus on judging one another, but we don’t reflect on what we can do for others. As Mexican President Benito Juárez once said, ‘Respect for the rights of others means peace.’”.
He knows he was lucky to come to America and have the right to education– something not every immigrant has a right to. “I believe education is the highest power someone can achieve. And if it were possible for immigrants and non-immigrants to do so, it would be a plus for our nation. We need more people with knowledge to focus on the future and make a difference in the world.”
His ultimate goal is to take his designs to the next level and make it a known brand, all while continually making a positive impact in the fashion word.
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