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Diesel Makes History By Featuring Jillian Mercado, Model With Muscular Dystrophy, In 2014 Campaign

Submitted by on February 12, 2014 – 12:30 pmOne Comment

Jillian Mercado is making the wheelchair the must-have fashion accessory of the season.

OK, maybe not, but the 26-year-old, who was diagnosed with spastic muscular dystrophy, is redefining what it means to be beautiful. The fashion blogger and owner of Manufactured 1987 made history when she was handpicked by Nicola Formichetti, Diesel‘s artistic director, to star in their new Spring 2014 campaign.

“Diesel is a company where everyone can wear it,” she said on Today (below) during her interview with Matt Lauer. “You don’t have to look like a model to wear it. And I feel like these photos just show that. Every photo that they release, someone can relate to it. And that’s rare in the fashion industry, to be able to relate and say, ‘You know that’s me in that photo, through that person.’”

Shot by Lady Gaga‘s fave photographers Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, Mercado was cast alongside 23 other models for the “We Are Connected” campaign. But she is definitely the one Formichetti connected to the most.

“It’s never easy for her to move from point A to point B, but she’s totally fearless and has really been an inspiration to me,” Formichetti told Women’s Wear Daily of picking Mercado. “You don’t have to be a conventional model type to represent a brand. I was looking for a rebellious attitude, which is so closely tied to denim. The campaign was much more about the group, the gang, the tribe, the community. The people got to us in different ways but they’re connected visually, physically, mentally and denim is the thing that unites all of them. And that’s the theme and the tag line—we are connected.”

Now that she is a bonafide model, Mercado hopes to inspire other unconventional beauties to be more confident. “I won’t sugarcoat it; it’s a harsh world to be in,” she said of working in the fashion industry. “Everyone’s criticizing you for how you look like, not for your brain. On a day-to-day basis, I deal just going into the train station. There’s people who just don’t understand or are very closed-minded and don’t think before they say anything. But it gets better. If you have a positive attitude and determination in life, everything gets better.”

Check out Mercado’s Diesel ad, alongside visual artist James Astronaut, below as well as the rest of the Diesel Spring 2014 campaign, which is set to hit Vogue and Interview magazines in March . Do you feel connected?

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