Fashion

Fashion-Able: The Jillian Mercado Story.

Muscular dystrophy, that hampers mobility forcing those affected to use a wheelchair, is the antithesis of the prototype of a traditional model. This was until a very intrepid woman-on-wheels appeared on the scene, full of grace, style and charisma.

By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi info@chiaraspagnoliart.com
Photo: Danny Roche

Photo: Danny Roche

The fashion industry is accustomed to using judgmental criteria to define what is beautiful, often warping a tiny freckle into a monstrous flaw. Muscular dystrophy, that hampers mobility forcing those affected to use a wheelchair, is the antithesis of the prototype of a traditional model. This was until a very intrepid woman-on-wheels appeared on the scene, full of grace, style and charisma.

Photo: Hadar Pitch

Photo: Hadar Pitch

Jillian Mercado is conquering her fashion dream, through her courage about being differently abled, in an industry that is extremely image focused. The inspiring fashionista has never allowed her muscular dystrophy to get in the way. On the contrary, Jillian, who is always dressed to the nines, started working behind the scenes and was recently selected as a model for one of Diesel’s AD campaigns, featured in the March issues of magazines including Vogue and Interview. This has made her the darling of some of the most established media outlets and she speaks about her rise to fashion-stardom in this exclusive interview with Citizen Brooklyn:

Photo: Hadar Pitchon

Photo: Hadar Pitchon

When did you figure out that fashion was your path in life?
I think I always knew I wanted to be in fashion, because my mother would tell me of when I was a little girl: I would sit for hours next to her when she would sew her dresses and never get bored. I was very curious and asked a lot of questions about materials and stitches. I was very intrigued by that, contrary to my other sisters who would play with toys. I was always playing with my mother’s clothes. As I grew up, I was always very drawn to fashion, and in my senior year of high school, a friend of mine introduced me to FIT, a fashion school in New York. So I applied to that school and it was in college that I started taking fashion seriously.

Photo: Oli Mcavoy

Photo: Oli Mcavoy

Then you started working for very prestigious magazines…
I started with Allure Magazine, where I stayed for three months, which turned into a year. Then I worked at Veranda Magazine and then I worked for Patrick McMullan for three years. Now I work for We The Urban Magazine as Executive and Editorial Director. I now have the chance to be more creative, by taking care of all the editorials that focus on the young generation. We work with a lot of young photographers and contributors, and I think this distinguishes us from everybody else somehow. I always love to attend the photo-shoots!

Photo: Patrick Mcmullan

Photo: Patrick Mcmullan

And now you’ve switched sides of the camera… How did that happen?
I got to know Diesel’s artistic director Nicola Formichetti a year ago, through the launch party of We The Urban Magazine. Nicola was the cover model and was also hosting the party. We were both arrived early and started talking about puppies. That created a great connection between us. Then one day he put on Facebook that he was looking for a model for Diesel. A friend of mine convinced me to do it, since the casting was worldwide and open to anyone. One night I submitted. I remember one of the questions was, “Why should we pick you?” And I literally replied: “I want to change the world. Let’s change it together. lol.” Then two weeks later I was contacted and told they wanted me in the campaign. I was so surprised.

Photo: Sarah Shreves

Photo: Sarah Shreves

You also collaborated with François-Henri Pinault’s Eco-Group Kering, what is your take on sustainability?
They wanted to do “A Day in the Life” and they followed me around New York. I’m very concerned about sustainability, so I was happy they involved me. Actually, my favorite building in Manhattan is the Hearst Tower, because it’s powered by water and has solar panels all over the building, which is beautiful. I try my best not to use a lot of plastic, since even when it disappears it still remains in the air and a lot of people don’t know that. I get really uncomfortable when I see that people can’t be bothered to throw it in the garbage and just toss it in the streets.

The Diesel Campaign

The Diesel Campaign

Will you continue with modelling?
I’m planning to do a portfolio with a friend, since IMG modelling agency has opened their acceptance policy, so anyone can sign up.

What are your favorite accessories?
I love hats and glasses. I also like to play with my hairstyle, and crazy looking necklaces.

Do you think you can become a symbol through what you just did, and change the game in the fashion world?
Fashion is a very judgemental world. I feel I have a responsibility to do so. I wake up now and I can’t believe everything is happening to me and I feel I have the obligation to keep this going. Sometimes when things like this happen in the world or in the news, they go away after a while and people start wondering what happened. Sometimes it’s because they were so much into their fame that they forgot the whole purpose of it. So I’m not going away. I’m actually working with Diesel again on something; they’re flying me to Venice, where I’ve never been, so I’m very excited. It will be my first time in Europe.

What would you recommend to people who, just like you, want to change the world?
If you want to change the world go change it. No one should be holding you back. It’s a free country. Make it happen somehow. It’s funny because sometimes people think that changing the world has to be a grand thing, but actually you have to start with the little things. Even just a smile can sometimes change somebody’s world.

 

 

 

 

Comments are closed.