Jillian Mercado celebrated a major career milestone on Sunday night when she made her New York Fashion Week runway debut in The Blonds Fall 2020 show. Mercado, who has muscular dystrophy and uses a mechanical wheelchair to get around, wore an embellished gold jumpsuit and matching gold headdress for her turn on the catwalk.
After the show, Mercado, who has appeared in campaigns for Nordstrom, Diesel, and Target, and has been repped by IMG Models since 2015, posted an emotional statement on Instagram, saying she has been “through countless wars” to make the monumental moment happen and calling her runway debut a “milestone” and the “opportunity of a lifetime,” adding that it has always been her goal to represent those who feel unseen and unheard.
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This moment was brought to you by… Every single person who has a disability around the world that has felt unseen and unheard. For the countless of times that we all have shouted for respect and equal representation. Or for the times other people speak for us, not with us. For when we felt like we just didn’t belong in this world because no one thought that we were capable of doing anything. The times where people speak to everyone about our problems or our needs but us. This moment is brought to you by a young girl looking through magazines-collecting them to the point of basically being a hoarder and watching fashion television while taking notes of how to be the best in the industry-being glamorized by the world of fashion and loving every single moment of what she saw but wondering if she actually belonged. Wondering if they would actually accept her for being exactly who she is, even though she never saw someone who had a visible disability in those magazines or television. Imagining what that would look like was nothing but a dream, a fantasy. One that she was told again and again that it would never be possible, that the world wasn’t ready, that the world wouldn’t give her a chance. This moment. This exact moment, It’s for you. I’ve been through countless wars making sure that this moment was exactly how I imagined through every obstacle you can think of. Determination helped me get to this moment and those who believed in me made sure that it was as perfect as I knew I could be. Thank you to @davidblond and @phillipeblond for giving me this opportunity of a lifetime, a huge mile stone in my career.💋 photo by @alexcruz.nyc
The Blonds co-designer David Blond commented on Mercado’s post, writing, “You ruled!!!!! Thank [you] so much for bringing this [to] life!! So much love and respect!!! #SaintJillian.”
Check out more looks from the show below.