Mercedes Smith

Portraits: Carmelo Donato, Photo Reportage: Sioux Nesi

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Her New Look
The Clothes: Mercedes traded her usual workday uniform of flats or sneakers, skinny jeans and a printed top ("I'm a big H&M and Forever 21 girl") for a diva-licious Gustavo Cadile gown that created an hourglass shape. Sky-high heels elongated her petite frame, and a two-tone belt made her waist look tiny.

The Hair and Makeup: When Ken saw Mercedes, he immediately thought of Diana Ross, which inspired a voluminous wavy style. He curled her hair with a quarter-inch iron, then brushed it out. Sandy decided dramatic eye makeup would be the perfect complement for Mercedes's full hair, so she mixed a teal shade that matched Mercedes's gown. To contrast with the bold eye makeup, Sandy chose a neutral bronze shimmer lipstick.

Mercedes's Reaction

"I told myself I wouldn't cry, but these are happy tears. I feel amazing. I never knew I could pull off a look like this!"

To learn more about Mercedes's work helping the homeless, go to

Gown, Gustavo Cadille. Necklaces (from top), Sarah Magid and Louise et Cie. Bracelets (from top), Bronzo Italia and Melinda Maria. Rings (from left), Melinda Maria and Maiyet.