Driving Force: Outer Style, Inner Confidence
An inspiring initiative with inspiring women: How three powerhouse personalities used their stories and experiences to help create their own interpretations of the “power suit,” each designed to both amplify and express inner confidence.
by : ELLE Canada- Mar 8th, 2021
The SHE’S MERCEDES Power Suit Project is a celebration of how women use their individual style to express self-confidence and empowerment. Mercedes-Benz Canada put three powerhouse personalities—model and mentor STACEY MCKENZIE, TV personality MELISSA GRELO and entrepreneur and entertainer MITSOU GÉLINAS—in the driver’s seat to collaborate with PINK TARTAN design director Kimberley Newport-Mimran on creating their interpretations of a “power suit.” Here, they discuss their complicated paths to self-confidence, what a power suit means to them and how connecting with other women is the key to true success.
Behind-the-Scenes Video of the Photo Shoot
How has your journey to self-confidence played out over the years?
STACEY McKENZIE “I wasn’t always this confident. I had a challenging journey to loving myself and owning who I am. Growing up in Jamaica, I wasn’t a typical-looking Black girl, so I was always trying to find a way to fit in. I’d try changing my looks—straightening my hair, minimizing my freckles, even hiding my lips with makeup. When I was looking to enter the modelling industry, it was the same story: No one would accept me because I looked too ‘different.’ At one point, it just hit me: No matter what I did to try to conform, I was still the same girl. So why not just be myself?”
MELISSA GRELO “I had a quarter-life crisis in my mid-20s when I decided to leave my career as a teacher. It was a big deal for a Type A personality like mine—you don’t quit; you just push through. But it was actually a way of honouring a voice inside me that I had probably ignored for far too long. By listening to it and throwing a bit of caution to the wind, I learned to trust it more. The saying ‘Jump and the net will appear’—I think that’s something we as women need to do more. Knowing I survived that, [I felt] I could do anything. Since then, I don’t think I’ve stopped developing that inner voice. To me, that’s self-confidence.”
MITSOU GÉLINAS “For me, it was a gradual process. Suddenly you’re in your field and making mistakes, and you think, ‘It isn’t as easy as I thought.’ That’s where you kind of lose your confidence because you really don’t know much. But with time, you start gaining experience, and, to me, real confidence comes from experience. At some point, you wake up and realize that with almost everything you do, you’ve lived something similar and you can use that experience to give yourself the boost you need. You have to accept that doubt is part of the creative process, but the feeling of trusting yourself is so comforting. No one can take that from you.”
“By helping others, you’re building not only someone else’s confidence but also your own.” — STACEY McKENZIE
Through the She’s Mercedes platform, Mercedes-Benz celebrates and connects successful women around the world. Why is it so important to have a forum where women can share their experiences and learn to navigate success?
MELISSA GRELO “In many industries, the opportunities for women to excel and ascend are so few that it keeps us apart from and competitive with one another in a negative way. It takes our eyes off the prize. With the She’s Mercedes initiative, one woman’s success is all of our success. The empowerment comes from knowing that we don’t have to compete with each other in that way. Not only do you not have to face these challenges alone but you have a tribe behind you too.”
MITSOU GÉLINAS “Building bridges between women helps to broaden our horizons; all those connections strengthen one’s network in a way. It’s always valuable to see how people in the same field as you produce their projects and evolve. And it’s important to bounce ideas off one another and learn from other women’s successes and mistakes. You really learn through the whole spectrum of experiences.”
STACEY McKENZIE “This type of initiative is where the conversation starts. It asks us to look into ourselves and open our minds to the idea that life is about way more than just ‘me.’ There are people out there who need to be uplifted, who need to feel the confidence you have. By helping others, you’re building not only someone else’s confidence but also your own.”
“I don’t think I’ve stopped developing that inner voice. To me, that’s self-confidence.” — MELISSA GRELO
What was the design inspiration behind your Pink Tartan power suit?
STACEY McKENZIE “Grace Jones, Tracee Ellis Ross, Cate Blanchett—women who are avant-garde. They have that strong, feminine sex appeal too. With a suit, it’s always black, grey or navy, so why not go red? You can still make it businesslike. When I put it on for the first time, I was so ready to go out. ‘Do I have any meetings? Can we make some meetings?’”
MITSOU GÉLINAS “Humans are like chameleons: We dress according to how we feel. And colour is all about vibrations. If you go out in a pink suit, you’ll be noticed. To me, power is also the freedom to be able to really move in your clothes. You need to be able to wear something that you can get through the day in. That’s why this suit, with its stretch material and easy shorts, is a power suit.”
MELISSA GRELO “I have a background in horseback riding—specifically, classical dressage. The history of the sport is actually in the military, so I wanted sharp shoulders, impeccable tailoring and military-style hardware for my suit. It creates a silhouette that’s authoritative and strong—it’s literally the outfit you wear to lead your troops into battle. And life is like that, especially for women who are still navigating spaces as the first woman to do so. You actually need your armour to go into those spaces.”
“You have to accept that doubt is part of the creative process, but the feeling of trusting yourself is so comforting. No one can take that from you.” — MITSOU GÉLINAS
Behind the Suits
What makes a power suit so powerful? According to Pink Tartan’s Kimberley Newport-Mimran, the designer behind The She’s Mercedes Power Suit Project capsule, it’s all to do with how it makes you feel. “A power suit unleashes self-confidence and enables women to express that confidence in a way that is authentic to themselves,” she says. This intersection of style and strength is also embodied in the Mercedes-Benz spirit, says Virginie Aubert, Vice President of Marketing at Mercedes-Benz Canada. “In 2021, the brand continues to promote women’s success around the world, including through the She’s Mercedes platform, which connects, celebrates and empowers high achievers across industries,” she says. Power also comes from sharing that privilege with others, so Pink Tartan will donate a percentage of each sale from this collection to Dress for Success, a global non-profit organization that provides professional attire for low-income women.
To learn more about the She’s Mercedes Power Suit Project, visit mercedes-benz.ca/powersuit.
Photographer, Caitlin Cronenberg; stylist and writer, Jillian Vieira; art director, Jed Tallo; makeup, Jodi Urichuk; hair, Kirsten Klontz; manicure, Nargis Khan; “Behind the Suits” photographer, Geoffrey Ross
The Mercedes-Benz Cars
STACEY McKENZIE Mercedes-AMG G 63 SUV in Polar White.
With 577 handcrafted horses, the AMG G 63 is a legend that’s been raised to a higher power for a new era. Advanced luxury, unwavering confidence and expanded individualization let you create a G-Class that’s at ease in any corner of the world.
MELISSA GRELO Mercedes-Benz SLC 300 Roadster in Jupiter Red.
The road meets the sky where the SLC 300 touches your heart. A turbo and shift paddles put the love of driving in your hands. Its roadster body is perfectly proportioned, with a power Panorama hardtop and a cabin tailored for two.
MITSOU GÉLINAS Mercedes-AMG GT C Coupe in designo Selenite Grey MAGNO.
With a hand-built 550-hp biturbo V8 behind its front axle and a dual-clutch 7-speed over its wide-track rear axle with rear-wheel-steering, the AMG GT C wraps its track-star moves in exclusive style and exquisite appointments.
About She’s Mercedes
She’s Mercedes (#ShesMercedesCA) is a platform developed by Mercedes-Benz to celebrate and connect successful women, empowering them to be their best by inspiring power, confidence and innovation. The She’s Mercedes Power Suit Project is about highlighting power and confidence and exploring how every woman expresses them differently. Confidence may shine from within, but it can be amplified by the right clothing – or the right car.
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