Diesel’s artistic director Nicola Formichetti has cast a wheelchair-bound fashion editor and blogger in its spring 2014 campaign. Jillian Mercado – a 26-year-old New Yorker with Dominican roots who suffers from muscular dystrophy – stars in the label’s ‘We Are Connected’ campaign. The campaign sees her posed alongside visual artist James Astronaut in a denim dress, bright red lipstick and her signature platinum blonde hair, making it clear how Formichetti consciously decided to feature, rather than hide her electric wheelchair in the photo.
She told MailOnline that she hopes the ad “gives hope to people who are maybe saying, ‘My life is over’ because they are disabled. You can totally do it, nothing should be stopping you.” The campaign – photographed by the acclaimed duo Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin – will run in the March issues of magazines including Vogue and Interview, and will also be displayed on the walls of every single Diesel store worldwide.
Mercado first met Formichetti through a shoot produced by We The Urban magazine, where she works as the executive editorial director. A few months later, she saw that his assistant put out a casting call for young, culturally-representative models to join Diesel as a campaign ambassador. Miss Mercado and her friends decided to enter the lot as a ‘joke’ she said.
Miss Mercado was not aware when the campaign would become public and on Tuesday morning woke up to see that Mr Formichetti had ‘tagged’ her in a photo on Instagram, signaling the campaign’s surprise release. In an interview with Women’s Wear Daily, Formichetti indicated that Miss Mercado was his favorite cast member of the campaign’s total 23 participants, who were picked to represent different sects of youth culture (including Japanese Internet stars and tattooed models).
‘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,’ he told the paper. ‘You don’t have to be a conventional model type to represent a brand.’
Very dope of Diesel to do this. Fashion bloggers are influential and this is an awesome campaign. Congrats Jillian!