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The princess of the needle & thread

By Javer Muñiz

Special to The Star

Rosa Mercedes has an authentic knowledge of the beauty business. Representatives from Runway 7 saw her performance at Expomoda and extended her an invitation to present at New York Fashion Week. But when it comes to her collection “Plus Size Royalty,” there’s more than meets the eye.

Mercedes’ journey started in a department store that specialized in men’s clothing. In this environment she had her first contact with fashion. She also inherited her style from her mother, who was a regular goer at the “Kermesse de la Moda” and “Destellos de la Moda” catwalks. No wonder why at a very young age Mercedes started making clothing for her dolls.

In high school, under the teaching of Ms. Altieri, she received her first formal education in needle and thread.

“I was able to go after my dreams thanks to the advice of Ms. Altieri,” Mercedes said. “She was like my fairy godmother.”

“I am the person that I am thanks to the fantastic advice Ms. Altieri gave me,” the designer added. “She taught me about the importance of doing something I’m passionate about. It was a lesson for life as I still live by that philosophy.”

Although Mercedes was always passionate about pursuing a career as a designer, it wasn’t until her children grew up that she was able to pick up her old dreams. And that’s exactly what she did when she became a model and later a beauty queen. She even won several titles, among them Reina Plus Hispanoamérica Internacional 2021.

Mercedes is part of the first delegation of Puerto Ricans who will be presenting tonight at Sony Hall in New York City’s Paramount Hotel Times Square. The path to where she is today was full of victories but also full of obstacles. She stayed focused because she knew she was opening doors for others.

“I did not feel welcome all of the time as a model and as a customer,” she said. “I could not find clothes that fit me.”

After a pause, she added: “There’s a need for representation and it is my duty to do my part so we can get visibility.”

Mercedes noted that “at the family’s business I developed a good ear for people’s needs and demands.”

“And with my models I learned that I was fighting for them, but also I was advocating for my inner child,” she said.

“My latest collection is called ‘Plus Size Royalty’ because I want to ease the quest my princesses with curves have to deal with when they are looking for clothes,” Mercedes said. “So that they are treated properly, just like a Disney princess.”

During her career Mercedes has been told several times that the cost of the fabrics represented an extra expense when creating an inclusive collection. She insists that “I am happy to invest if I have to because I know that the plus size business is profitable.”

“As consumers we all like options,” she said. “Plus size people are not the exception.”

“The shows have always been the perfect place to present ideas and about sharing who we are,” Mercedes said. “‘Plus Size Royalty’ is in a way an opportunity to display untold stories about our femininity. There are empire line dresses and two pieces with princess cuts, frills and a final look that will make you rethink about how we visualize the villains of popular stories, movies and even cartoons.”

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