Interview | Melissa Mercedes
1. When did you decide to make designing your career?
I was attending the Latin Grammys and spent weeks trying to find something that would fit for the occasion. I searched high and low for the perfect dress. I had a hard time finding anything that would fit my body type. The dresses that did fit were not my style. They were old lady-ish. So I went to my nearest Joanne’s, purchased some fabric and created this look for the 2017 Latin Grammys. After getting such positive feedback I decided to create a line of dresses for all the women who struggle like I do finding a dress for special occasions.
2. What do you feel Melissa Mercedes offers that other brands don’t?
Melissa Mercedes offers women who are curvier or fuller in body type a sexy fit resulting in a look that compliments the curves. We also offer sizing from 8-28 to appeal to women who have a hard time finding something to wear.
3. How do you get inspiration to create new designs?
I get inspirations from things I like. I think to myself what would I want to wear to a party? How would I want a certain garment to look? What parts of me do I need covered without taking away the sexy?! I also try to stay in trend but also stick to a classic look!
4. How do you want women to feel when they wear your clothes?
I hope that when women wear my designs they feel beautiful, confident, and empowered. That feeling I'm hoping to give to women is the reason I do what I do. Being overweight can be very difficult and its a struggle to look at yourself in the mirror sometimes and accept your size. I’m hoping my dresses make women forget about their size and just feel sexy, vibrant and empowered! Lets bring their sexy back!
5. What has been the highlight of your career?
I got a DM from a young lady in Russia. She thanked me from the bottom of my heart for creating clothes for bigger girls and said living in Russia there was no access to plus size clothing. She said, "in Russia they believe if you are plump, then you can’t dress in fashionable clothes." Im truly honored to create something for someone like her where it meant something and brought so much happiness. That was the highlight of my career.
6. What challenges do you face as a designer?
Tying to create something for everyone. I want to make sure all women can find at least one dress that looks good on their body. I want to make sure no one is left behind.
7. How do you feel about the term plus size?
67% of American women are “plus size”. That is more than half which means we are majority. Why don’t the stores accommodate these women accordingly? Anything that isn’t plus size should need a term too. Minus size and Plus size. Sounds good to me.
8. What designers inspire you?I really love Michael Costello and Cristian Siriano.
9. How did you come up with the name Melissa Mercedes?
Its my name. But I am also paying homage to my amazing grandmother who I'm named after. Strong, dedicated, and unstoppable. She was a seamstress/designer and worked most of her life creating clothes. Im honored to be named after such a hard working exemplary woman.
10. What advice would you give to women who struggle with their body image?
I would say the first thing to realize is that NO ONE is perfect. You may admire someone slimmer or with more this or less that but in all honesty everyone can find something about themselves they don’t like. So try to appreciate the things you do have. Everyone has special gifts that make you, unique. Embrace the good and the bad and realize we are a canvas of God’s work.
11. You recently just debuted your collection "Roots" at Art Hearts Fashion Week. What was your inspiration behind it?
I really wanted to pay homage to my AFRO LATIN roots. I am of Dominican descent and felt it was really important to show how my background is a huge influence in who I am and how I design.
12. Are you working on any projects at the moment?
Yes I actually worked on a short film called “Abuela’s Luck” where I am executive producer, wardrobe stylist and I have a small role. This film is incredibly special because it was a passion project I worked on with a few friends & family. It’s about life lessons in a NYC bodega.
The film has been accepted into 9 film festivals so far and still counting. We are so excited with the response it has received thus far & can’t wait for what’s next.
Interview by: Joy Bullard Breitman