Mireia Mendoza is 27 years old, blind and deaf and her passion is fashion.
With the help of photographer Pau Torrens, beautician Nancy Pujol and designer Hugo Micaelo, Mireia starred in a special photo shoot on the terrace of the Horizonte hotel.
"The Mireia project arose from this collaboration, it raised awareness about deafblindness and was a learning process for all of us," says Portuguese designer Hugo Micaelo, who’s been based in Mallorca for 20 years. "The red dress that Mireia wears for the photo shoot costs 2,100 euros and I made it for María Rico to wear at the Miss Grand Spain gala in 2017. It’s embroidered with rhinestones, is made with elegant transparent fabric, has a suggestive neckline and a 6-metre long organza skirt.”
Before the photoshoot, Nancy Pujol styled Mireia’s hair and applied her make-up.
Meanwhile, photographer, Pau Torrens, who has 15 years experience in fashion and cinema, prepared his equipment and fine tuned the locations for the shoot.
"At first there was some concern about how we would communicate, but Mireia was accompanied by a girl who spoke to her in sign language and translated everything back and forward,” explains Torrens. “Little by little everything started to flow and I am very satisfied with the experience and the result.”
Mireia Mendoza first sashayed down the catwalk during Milan Fashion Week in 2019 and shortly after that she worked the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Madrid.
The fashion world is extremely difficult for an able-bodied model to navigate and even more so for someone with a disability, but Mireia says taking part in two of the world’s most famous shows was empowering.
"I had the opportunity to walk the catwalk in Milan and at that moment I realised that nothing is impossible for me and that I can do absolutely everything I want to. It’s also when my personal project, MM Deafblind Model was born,” says Mireia who has Usher Syndrome and type 1 diabetes.
"I had a cochlear implant from the age of 4 and when I was 10 I developed an eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa, which causes progressive loss of visual field,” she explains.
"With this initiative I want to show the world that people who are deafblind or have other disabilities are also a valuable part of society."
Mireia’s main goal is to raise awareness about deafblindness and Usher Syndrome.
"People with deafblindness have trouble seeing and hearing, but we are not all the same and the most important thing is that we are people like everyone else,” she says. “The project also aims to open the doors to the world of fashion to everyone and eliminate the barriers that exist in our society; to achieve equality, full inclusion and universal accessibility through awareness of the population,” adds Mireia.
She hopes that doing photo sessions with different professionals from the world of fashion and taking part in fashion shows and other events will help to publicise her project.
“Our long-term goal is to be able to hold informative talks in schools, Institutes and Training Centres and to work with interested companies," she says.
Mireia is not the only deaf and blind model on the catwalk.
“There are some fashion companies that discriminate against people like me with disabilities, but accessibility, inclusion and diversity is what I want to achieve and to work with me is to work for that," stresses Mireia.
Hugo Micaelo, Pau Torrens and Nancy Pujol say they were extremely impressed with Mireia's professionalism.
"She is a very intelligent woman with a great ease of communication and working with her has been a pleasure, but above all a great learning experience,” they said.
The photo shoot lasted for more than five hours, the results are excellent and can be seen on social media networks and the websites of those involved.