Living La Vida De Moda: Maria Del Carmen Mercado

A year ago when I wrote an article called Meet Local Fashion Designer Maria Del Carmen Mercado for my internship. We’ve been in touch since I sat down with Maria in Dave’s Coffee Shop in Providence, but I decided to write a follow-up article (a whole year later) about the Dominican Republic-born, Providence-based fashion designer.

“I didn’t choose fashion, fashion chose me.”

Maria recalls the days where her career as a designer, and essentially, a creative began: “My story of a fashion designer or creative began as a child, where I would sew the clothes for my dolls and my friends’ dolls, and everything around me was usually transformed into dolls.  For example, mango seeds. I would usually paint a face on them with nail polish and they would become my dolls. [My] business also started early; I would make doll clothes and trade them for candy or coins.”

Her curiosity for fashion and particularly the art of movement peaked when she was in high school. “I was involved in after-school art programs and activities.  But it wasn’t until high school where I started to work after school in a clothing store.  I also modeled with two agencies and started to draw clothes.  During this time I became very curios why the clothing that I loved never fit correctly so during my time in my job I would put close attention to the fabrics that I handled, the details of the clothes but most importantly, I would ask myself how would I change the garment to make it fit me the way I liked,” says Mercado. And because of this experience, she likes to work with clients to give them the perfect jacket, wedding dress, bathing suit, etc that fits them just right.

unnamed (8)

After graduating high school, she received a scholarship to attend the Rhode Island School of Design pre-college program (concentrating on fashion), where she built a portfolio and eventually got into her first-choice college: The Fashion Insitute of Technology in New York, New York where she graduated as a fashion design major in 2007.

“Fashion is a form of expression, my own personal way to see a shape or garment.  It is my way to represent a body’s figure.  To me, fashion is away of life. Things become shapes, color and structure.  It’s a way of putting attention to the details around me.  For example, my opinion on politics, history and culture. Fashion is thinking outside the box. It is knowing when to listen to your intuition and being able to recognize what is and isn’t there.”

If you are thinking about a career in fashion design, Mercado does have a few words of wisdom for you: “First I want to say that fashion is NOT what you see in the magazines, another word is NOT just glamour.  Just like a doctor or engineer, there are certain things that a fashion designer needs to learn.  In my opinion, to be a good fashion designer, I feel education is key.  Even if you are wealthy how would you communicate what you want to the pattern maker or the seamstress or most importantly, how would you know the difference between a patterned sleeve or a skirt?  To be a fashion designer there are so many components that you need to learn that you can’t learn by watching youtube channels.  Pattern making, draping, fashion illustration, color theory,  are just a few things that are a must for a fashion designer.”

Mercado continues: “to be a great fashion designer you need to be adventurous, willing to take risks and be different.  Learn to look within yourself and make decisions that YOU feel that work.  You need to have the confidence to turn off the voices and follow your heart.  I feel that the best direction is to design what I feel is correct NOT what is trendy.  I believe that you can’t teach someone how to be an artist but they can learn the technical side and the best way is through formal education.  Being an artist is seeing and feeling beyond what’s there, how can you teach that?”

unnamed (7)

When asked what her favorite part of being a designer was, she said she enjoys every aspect of it! But that isn’t to say, that there aren’t times when she doesn’t have creator’s block. When she does get creator’s block, she doesn’t go by what other people are creating or what’s “in style,” at the moment. She just moves on to another project or takes a walk to recharge and refresh her mind. That also isn’t to say that she doesn’t get critical with herself, either, which she said is a weakness of hers.

“Although I am much better now, but it took awhile to realize that no one is going to give my brand 100% but me.  MDCM designs are my feelings, the way I see things, my way of life.  Realizing that no one but me could convey this has helped me a great deal, most importantly excepting that perfect does not exist.”

With that being said, in the fashion world, one is always learning, making mistakes, taking risks, and finding themselves through their work!

To view Maria’s website, click here  and to shop, go to http://www.mariadelcarmenmercado.shop! Thank you, Maria, for the interview and for your powerful, impactful words of advice!

***Photographers of the design images are @gabinichi and @denzzzadd from ristudio504.com — check out their work! 

 

Here’s To The Best Summer Of My Life: A Reflection

So, as most of you know, I just wrapped up my editorial internship at Rhode Island Monthly, and it’s been a dream come true.

Rhode Island Monthly is the premier publication in Rhode Island, and I’m forever grateful to have been a part of it for nearly four months. It’s almost weird not going into Providence every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Some of the highlights include:

  1.  Best of RI Party

image2 (11)

I wrote an entire blog post about my experience here.

2.  Interviewing Maria del Carmen Mercado

IMG_0296-748x1024

via Rhode Island Monthly

Maria del Carmen Mercado is an RI fashion designer. She taught me so much in this one interview. For example, why post on social media every day when you can just post something and say “hey, this is what I’ve been working on,” or something inspiring. Read the entire article here.

3.  Trying out a (free) fitness class

image11

Photo by me

To read the full article, click here.

4.  Branching out of my comfort zone and writing my own fashion blog!

At RIM, I was blessed with the opportunity to create my own “fashion plate” on the site. One of the (many) things I did was go out and take photos of young women in PVD to compile a Fashion-Forward: Street Style in PVD post. This was definitely one way of branching out of my comfort zone.

5.  Throwing the first pitch at a PawSox game

39900367_1816766138370575_6657540007080755200_n

I know, I have bad form, but my aim was okay! This came as a surprise for all three of us, interns. It started with a picture, then we were told to get into a single-file line onto the field and we were each given a ball. None of us knew what we were doing! When we were told to throw the balls to the catcher, Fernando, we just went with the flow and, yes, someone got a picture of us throwing the FIRST PITCH! We then had to get all of the RI Monthly employees to sign our balls. Did the PawSox win? No, but we all won a HUGE highlight of our summer internships.

6.  Meeting fashion icon, Iris Apfel

35922328_1723030817744108_7276143502478540800_n

Yes, this is Iris Apfel still killing the fashion game at ninety-six-years-old! I met her at RIB & RHEIN in Newport. For the full article, click here.

I definitely found fashion to be my “niche” this past summer and will continue to write about it wherever the wind takes me! Rhode Island may not be the fashion capital of America, but it certainly is the “Creative Capital.”

Thank you, Rhode Island Monthly, for the best summer of my life ☺♥

Next stop, an Editorial Fellowship at College Fashionista, my junior year at RWU, and SENIOR SEMINAR/THESIS!

xoxo,

April

 

 

 

THE FASHION DIARIES: How To Style Birkenstocks (are they the new uggs?)

giphy (3)

Happy Sunday, my (A)pril-Listers! I had a busy weekend (hi Kristen, hi Katelyn!) My best friends from Massachusetts came all the way down to little Rhodey to visit me! Over the weekend I found out their beauty secrets (which I’ll be sure to post at some point) and we definitely kept the weekend fashionable.

So I gave into the trend I used to make fun of, Birkenstocks! Yes, I bought a pair from SHEIN. This dress I’m about to show you that I just got from SHEIN is TO DIE FOR and I couldn’t wait to share it with y’all. Not to mention it’s PERFECT with Birkenstocks.

I bought the traditional tan Birkenstocks because, duh, tan goes with everything! Like I said, I used to make fun of them but now, I just can’t get enough! I want them in black, pink, white, every color imaginable!

Okay, judge me, because Birkenstocks are basically the new UGG fad for the summer/springtime. But personally, I think they’re both timeless trends. I mean, hey, jeans have been around for decades and people still wear them, even if they are wide-legged. 

P.S. Jeans with Birkenstocks = HAWT (especially with skinny jeans).

137269_source

Without further ado… here’s a couple of ways I’ve styled the infamous Birks.

  1. Festival Style

image3 (9)

Yes, it was 90+ degrees and I was still wearing a cardigan strictly for this artsy, festival look.

Nevertheless, Birkenstocks are THE show for festivals. In this case, my friend and I went to the Warren Folk Festival last weekend, where we were going to be walking (and, of course, bearing the heat.) So, I wanted to go for a more casual look. Here I am wearing (literal) cut-offs jean shorts that come down just at the middle of the thigh. I’m wearing the vintage sunglasses I bought at Urban Outfitters and a simple, black tank-top. Oh yeah, and don’t forget the fedora (;

2.  Sunday Brunch

This is the dress I’ve been dying to show on my blog. It’s from SHEIN and it has blue stripes and orange and pink tassels, which are SO in right now. I have never been so in love with a dress before. But this goes to show that Birkenstocks can definitely go with any casual dress. I was thinking of my little black short-sleeve dress with a v-neck that I also purchased from SHEIN.

These shoes are also perfect if you want to get a pedicure (yes, my friends and I got ~blue~ pedicures.) My toes are Tiffany-Blue ☺

Birkenstocks are also great for toning down a cute romper and achieving a more casual look.

Start your end-of-summer looks off with sliding your feet into a comfortable pair of Birkenstocks! These shoes are also perfect for walking around campus (especially if your campus is larger.)

xoxo,

April

I do not own any of the gifs used in this blog post.***

THE FASHION DIARIES: A Mid-Summer Fashion Dream | ZARA and Discounts

Long time no fashion updates! (Well, except on Instagram, of course). But, as promised, I will be doing a ZARA AND a discount haul! I’ve been so busy with my internship, work, and even an org retreat. To follow my bylines at Rhode Island Monthly, click here.

But let’s get down my business (a.k.a my blog) and talk about what I’ve bought recently/worn this week:

  1. image1 (35)

P.S. sorry that 3/4 of these are selfies, but I just wanted to get ~the essentials~ in the pictures.

This first outfit I wore on Monday to RIM, and I really wanted to wear one of my new tops from ZARA. I thought of wearing these shoes that I got for my birthday (from TJMAXX) for a pop of color. This outfit is perfect for a work environment, an interview, or even school if you’re feeling fancy. These rounded sunglasses are from Francesca’s. The top can also be paired with a dark-wash jean.

2.

image3 (6)

This is (another selfie) but it’s also a printed top that I also purchased from ZARA with mixes of yellows, oranges, browns, lilacs, and pinks. The sleeves are poofy with babydoll detail, which you can also see at the neck with almost a neck-tie keeping the shirt together. This adds a more sophisticated look, but this can be worn anywhere, although it does have a bit of deep neck (hence the tie). I wore this with a pair of red jeans and beige-gold kitten heels.

3.

image4 (7)

Exhibit C: a pinstripe peplum top I wore on my little excursion to Downtown Bristol. This is an example of a more sophisticated makeup look. I usually don’t wear eyeliner, but I used a powdered brown eyeliner from bareMinerals to create a subtle cat-eye. I didn’t want the cat-eye to be too strong because it was only a nice summer day by the water at one of my favorite coffee shops.

This outfit was actually inspired by one of my favorite YouTubers, Erin Noelle. Believe it or not, this outfit (and the earrings) were from Wal-Mart! So, of course, I bought them both for decent prices! The earrings I actually featured in my blog post, THE FASHION DIARIES: Summer Colors and Patterns. I paired this ensemble with classic white jeans, the original Sperry Topsiders, and a classic gold ALEX AND ANI bracelet.

4.

image2 (10)

You know what they say, everything is better with pockets! At least, that’s what some people say IDK. Truth be told, I didn’t even realize this dress had pockets until I put it on! This is another discount outfit I wore to RIM. In case you haven’t noticed from previous blog posts, I love blue, bold earrings, cute shoes, and vertical stripes.

If you look closely, my earrings are hot pink with pom-poms, and my shoes have bows on them! Also, I’m sporting a new pair of retro sunglasses from Urban Outfitters. They remind me of the pair of sunglasses that Carrie Bradshaw wears in “The Carrie Diaries.”

giphy (2)

THE FASHION DIARIES: Fourth of July Style

I’ve been a tad MIA on the blog for a while; I’ve been too busy killing it at my internship! Speaking of which, I have a journalism portfolio coming out, as soon I’m ~less busy~ which we all know is probably not going to happen, any time soon. But don’t worry, I’ll let you know ☺

It’s one of my most favorite times of the year: Independence Day! I live in Bristol, home to the oldest Fourth of July celebration. Needless to say, everything gets pretty crazy, especially the style! I remember my first summer here, I donned cowboy boots with jean shorts and flannel…… yikes!

This week, I really wanted to keep the patriotism alive through my outfits. Without further ado, here are my top three Fourth of July week outfits:

1.)

36513136_2114500872120059_4308432778682171392_n

This is a simply stylish white-jeans and speckled peplum blouse outfit. I got this top as an early birthday present for myself (was that really two months ago!?) at H&M. I wanted an outfit that would be appropriate for the office (and for getting a root beer float, afterward.) This outfit screams for both ice cream and summer!

2.)

 

This next style features a simple navy short-sleeved top tucked into my favorite kind of pant… guess which ones… PALAZZO PANTS! If you look closely the pants have stripes and small polka-dots on them. I’m also wearing my new sandals from my new favorite store, Zara. This is a perfect combination of the famous red, white and blue — also appropriate for the Beach House dinner right on the water (where you can also catch a perfect glimpse of the Bristol July 3 Fireworks). I swear, people must’ve seen my Fourth of July article for RIM because I mention the Beach House! I’m also rocking the sunburn, lol!

3.)

36614127_2116394095264070_6563599571849576448_n

This picture was taken today at the Bristol Fourth of July Parade. Here, I am wearing a red and white pinstripe off-the-shoulder dress with rose-colored vans, complete with a cross-body bag (because you seriously don’t want to carry a big metallic bag like mine to a parade — such a hassle!) And especially in this heat, a water bottle of any kind is essential.

Today, I also documented the Roger Williams University Orientation Advisors’ appearance in the parade — float and all (which won ‘most original’). I must say, it is fun taking charge of social media; I felt like Katy Bellotte in her latest YouTube video

Last Saturday, I had the amazing privilege of meeting Maria del Carmen Mercado, a local fashion designer. As she and I chatted for two whole hours, I learned a lot from her that I think all millennials (and Gen-Z) should follow. But I’ll save that for another blog post.

Have a safe, healthy and cool Fourth of July. Oh yeah, and happy birthday, America!

xoxo

April

THE FASHION DIARIES: Summer Colors and Patterns

It’s officially post-Memorial day (and my birthday), which means one thing: TIME TO WEAR WHITE… and other things. I’m not going to lie, I’ve broken this rule one too many times, but do I care? No, not really.

You can check out my very first published Rhode Island Monthly materials here.

Anyway, I’ve been bringing out the summer colors since I got out of school last month.

Exhibit A: Colorful earrings. Orange, especially, is the color of conversation. If you’re going for simple jewelry, however, I recommend choosing gold. Gold is paving its way into the spotlight this season, and as you can tell from these photos, so are chambray and white.

 

In both of these photos, I’m also rocking the beachy waves. My hair is naturally straight, but sometimes when I sleep on it weird (when it’s still wet, that is), I just let my hair do its thang, and if I like it, I like it.

shrug

White is especially popular for the summer because it’s 1) a neutral and 2) a light-reflecting color that will be sure to keep you cool for the summer *insert Demi here.*

Exhibit B: Military green. Military green was a popular color during the springtime. But, I’m escorting it into my own personal summer style guide. Military green can be paired with any neutral color, like gold, white, pale pink, silver, and black. In this case, I paired my military green “birthday suit” with a pale pink chunky, platform heel and a rose-gold, gold and silver statement necklace (and, of course, a birthday crown).

image1 (27)

Last, but not pictured, are stripes. No matter if they are black and white or navy and white, but this pattern screams #nautical. And with the nautical aspect in mind, anchor prints will also be coming back for the summer season.

Stay tuned for more Rhode Island Monthly articles! ♥

THE FASHION DIARIES: Spring Fashion Mambo

Once again, I’m taking a break from the millions of things I have to do before finals to bring you another FASHION DIARIES. No, I am not in finals week (yet), but I will be next week. Thus far, I have finished 2/5 of the things I have to do. Like Nelson Mandela once said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” (I should be saving that for when I do my senior sem/thesis next year).

So, without further ado, here is what I like to call the spring fashion mambo for any event/occasion!

1.)  Carnival Cutie (photo taken by my dear friend, Francis — hi!)

image4 (4)

My school hosted a carnival/block party a couple of Saturdays ago. I wanted to look cute, yet comfortable because I would obviously be going on rides and eating greasy food (Francis and I waited about an hour for Frisky Fries — so worth it!). So, I brought out the gingham print shirt and the red pants (carnival and barbeque patterns/colors). The one (or two) things missing in this picture are my classic beige Sperry Topsiders. One other essential is my cat-eye sunglasses. P.S. see my gingham blog post for my take on the trend!

2.) Sunday Studious Style

image2 (8)

 One classic piece to wear this spring/summer season is a denim jacket — no matter if it’s a dark wash or light wash or distressed or embroidered! In this case, I appropriated my mom’s embroidered dark-wash embroidered jacket. I recently bought this off-the-shoulder red-striped dress from rainbowshops.com (that’s where I also got my gingham top from above). Regardless, a denim jacket I believe is essential for any wardrobe. You could pair any pair of casual shoe with this ensemble, but I decided to sport my trusty Sperry Topsiders for this Sunday outfit. This outfit is perfect for studying at your local library, coffee shop, going to church, or walking by the bay (for those of you who don’t know, I live seaside!).

3.) The Maxi-Dress… ‘nough said.

image1 (22)

First of all, my campus is beautiful — I thought I’d just throw that out there ☺ Again, I bought this dress at Rainbowshops.com (where else?) and I am actually wearing this dress right now as we speak! I decided to bring out a bold, statement necklace to complete my maxi-dress and sandals look. The necklace is a combination of gold, silver, and rose-gold. Sandals are from TJMAXX and they are nude and gold thong sandals. This dress also has a bold slit (I’ve been so tempted to do the famous Angelina Jolie slit stance). The vertical stripes make me look taller than I actually am and the belt/cinching is in the perfect place. This outfit is a perfect business casual outfit and perfect for any occasion, really!

THE FASHION DIARIES: The Rainy Day Batik Effect

You know what they say: April showers bring May flowers! But that rainy day on Wednesday didn’t stop me from appropriating my mom’s blue and purple batik dress.

I’ve really come out of my comfort zone in terms of fashion. While I was going to the gym on a religious basis again (I still am), I found myself constantly wearing activewear and wearing my hair up in a ponytail. I’ve found ways to wear ponytails in my new, everyday outfits. But sometimes, you can’t be afraid to let your hair down. Now, letting my hair down is something that’s completely out of my comfort zone. My hair is naturally straight, but when I sleep on it when it’s still wet after a shower, I like it when it attains those beachy waves. Beachy waves and that un-brushed hair are most definitely appropriate for this upcoming summer weather. Did you know it’s supposed to be in the 70’s next week!? As much as I love fall fashion, I can’t help but get excited when warmer weather is approaching.

Moreover, on Wednesday it was raining cats and dogs. But I still very much wanted to wear my mom’s dress:

image1 (21)

I decided that it needed something else besides a short boot (from Francesca’s). So, I threw on my trusty jean jacket from Forever 21. It gives off an edgy/boho chic look. Batik is a technique of wax dyeing applied to cloth of any kind. The crinkles in the pattern are where the wax breaks. Batik is a style technique practiced by the Indonesians. I can definitely see this coming into the spotlight throughout the Spring and Summer seasons!

If you must ask, blue is one of my lucky colors, alongside gold. But purple/mauve happens to be my favorite color. ☺

Today’s supposed to be another rainy day here in little Rhodey, so break out the spring colors/patterns in spite of the dreary mess coming upon us!

For more outfit inspiration, check out my Instagram @theaprilfederico !

 

THE FASHION DIARIES: Playing With Neutrals

If there’s one thing I love about the fact that it’s almost summer, is playing with neutrals. I found this adorable polyester two-piece in my mom’s closet and I decided to play it up with my blue suede jacket for a little color-blocking.

Playing with neutrals and dark colors are also in this spring/summer season. Can we just take a second to thank Mother Nature for this warmer weather we’re having?

I could have left this outfit as-is and pursue ballet flats, but why do that when there are these adorable kitty-cat wedges in your mom’s closet that haven’t been worn in years? That’s one way to put a little prowl in your step (pun intended). These, too, are a neutral color with appropriate, small amounts of gold, purple, and green. Plus, they have a little ring around the big toe for a little modern flair.

image1 (20)

Fun fact: this necklace was limited-edition at the Louvre in Paris, France. Yes, I said Paris. I haven’t been to Paris enough times to know whether or not one would wear this in Paris *insert thinking emoji here*.

You could really wear this outfit anywhere — even the workplace, just make sure you bring a pair of backup shoes!