1 Girl, 4 Looks: Local Beauty Guru Mercedes Parra

UPDATE: In need of a little beauty inspo on this chilly afternoon? Us, too. Peek through Mercedes Parra's oh-so-stylish world. This story was originally published on May 3.
Mercedes Parra is the go-to friend we all dream of having. She's cool, relatable, chic, and, just for good measure, a beauty consultant, too. But wait, there's more! We think Mercedes has the sartorial savvy to add fashion stylist to her impressive resume as well.
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We spent the day with this sophisticated Chicagoan to find out what she's stoked to wear this spring and summer, and, while we were at it, picked her brain about everything from style inspiration to shopping wish lists (and, of course, plenty of makeup advice). Click through for four Mercedes-styled outfits and find out why you'll want to get in good with this beauty pro, ASAP.
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What is the greatest source of style inspiration for you?
"I'm always inspired by new things (not necessarily the newest things). French, Italian, and Japanese women combine the trend of moment with timeless pieces creating a unique perspective– allowing their distinct personalities to shine though. That is inspirational."

What are three go-to pieces from your closet that you couldn't live without?
"J Brand skinny jeans (can't seem to find a better fit for me), Alaia black leather ankle boots with all-over eyelet detailing and T-shirts from my favorite rock-n-roll shows (like fragrances, they tend to take me back to the moments I won't soon forget)."

On Mercedes: Rag & Bone blazer, Rick Owens ribbed tank top, Chrome Hearts leather leggings, Hermes Collier De Chien cuff bracelet, Christian Louboutin Astroid spiked toe pump with snakeskin and crystal, NARS Schiap lipstick, Kevyn Aucoin The Creamy Moist Glow in Pravella, Mac Buff power blush, YSL Singulier black mascara.


Photographed by Heather Talbert
2 of 10
Who are your style icons?
"Chloe Sevigny, Tilda Swinton, Iris Apfel, Rita Hayworth and Kelly Wearstler."


Photographed by Heather Talbert
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What is your favorite vintage find? "Maxfield in LA has the most unbelievable collection of vintage Hermes. It's quiet well known (even by Hermes) so I'm not sure it is a "find" but I've started a fund that will finance a few key pieces (which, I can't share for obvious reasons)."


Photographed by Heather Talbert
4 of 10
What do you love most about being a makeup artist?
"I'm loud (helpful when you come from a large Italian/Spanish family), social, and often don't know when to keep my mouth shut. I am unapologetically me. Makeup is transformative, artistic, and confidence-inspiring. The power to reflect the individual and magnify their best assets is gratifying. I love it when a bride's best features shine on the day when all eyes are on her (and want the best for her). This is the moment that gives me the greatest pleasure–it's hard to describe how amazing it is to be part of this intimate and once-in-a-lifetime experience."


Photographed by Heather Talbert
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What inspired you to pursue this career path?
"My family has an artistic bent (dancers, sculptures, architects, chefs). Somehow I became an athlete with a college scholarship. I soon realized that art fulfilled me in a way that athletics couldn't. I shifted gears and focused on fashion at SAIC. Makeup can take an ordinary moment and make it extraordinary. I love the reveal, when I have been working with a model or bride and they see what they have become in a very short period of time. It's emotional, unlike anything I have seen (short of cutting off all of you hair - which, I've done a few times)."

On Mercedes: J. Crew chambray shirt, Isabel Marant snake print cotton velvet pants, one-of-a-kind silver Chrome Hearts bracelets, YSL Tribute sandal, Nars Lipstick in Heat Wave.


Photographed by Heather Talbert
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What is one fashion item you're currently hunting for?
"A Celine neon yellow pony tote. I am still beating myself up over not buying Richard Prince's "Jokes" tote for Louis Vuitton. Marc Jacobs' collaborations with artists are always smart buys. If you can't afford a Richard Price painting, (who can?) you can have an art-meets-fashion piece from the well curated perspective of Marc Jacobs (Murakami, Prince, Kusama)."


Photographed by Heather Talbert
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What is a typical workday outfit for you?
"My typical workdays are atypical. Clients see me in my most considered attire. When running around researching, buying beauty products for clients, lugging makeup in rolling cases (makeup is surprisingly heavy), I wear my HTC studded motorcycle boots, skin-tight jeans from J Brand (with a little stretch, phew) and if it's cold a Chrome Hearts military jacket with silver accents. On my work-from-home days, I'm in head-to-toe James Perse (son of Maxfield owner Tommy Perse), in colors that match my dogs' hair. Chopper and Rocco follow me from room-to-room. They are needy which feeds my ego and they shed quite a bit."

On Mercedes: Roberto Cavalli tuxedo jacket for H&M, Rick Owens ribbed tank top, Chrome Hearts denim shorts, Hermes Medor Bracelet Cuff, Comme Des Garçons Play Converse sneakers, NARS Lipstick in Heat Wave.


Photographed by Heather Talbert
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What is your favorite fashion splurge?
"Cuffs, cuffs and more cuffs. They aren't very girly and if you gang them together they make an unforgettable statement."


Photographed by Heather Talbert
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What beauty advice do you find yourself giving to friends and family over and over again? 
"The obvious things that are hardest to maintain. Eat healthy, stay out of the sun, drink plenty of water. Makeup for me has the greatest impact when it is imperceptible. It should enhance your beauty, not replace it. And abide by two strict rules, no blue eyeshadow and frosted lipstick."

What is one beauty product every Chicago girl should have in her bag at all times? 
"Moisturizer (anything from La Mer –it's worth it). Also, red lipstick for a seamless day-to-night transition. If you have to choose between moisturizer and red lipstick choose the lipstick–girls wearing red lipstick have more fun!"

On Mercedes: ALC cotton dress, Chrome Hearts flannel shirt, Golden Goose cropped leather jacket, Rick Owens ankle boots, Burberry Prorsum Knight studded bag, NARS Lipstick in Heat Wave.


Photographed by Heather Talbert
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How does living in Chicago affect your personal style (if at all)?  "I march to the beat of my own drum. My philosophy is when in doubt, do not match. Especially if it's straight off the mannequin. I struggle with this because large brands invest a significant amount of time creating "outfits" and stores curate clothes that go together. There are two possible outcomes. One, you will be wearing the same outfit as someone else at the party or two you are being set-up for designed obsolescence (meaning, that you will deliberately be ostracized next season by the very brand you are supporting)."


Photographed by Heather Talbert
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