This is Not a Shoe

Text by Helen McDermott

When imagining plastic footwear, some must be forgiven for inadvertently conjuring nightmarish visions of old-school jelly shoes or—heaven forbid—Cayman Crocs, even in spite of the fact that Melissa, the notorious techno-organic design collective, has been successfully showcasing their fantastic plastic creations for over 26 years now.

Crafted from their signature MelFlex, consisting entirely of recycled plastics, Melissa designs exude sophisticated aestheticism and keen style savvy, solidifying their accessory brand de jour status worldwide year after year, and attracting the collaborative energies of the most innovative minds across the board. The boutique studio serves as the convening grounds for conceptual and aesthetic cross-pollination; it is a creative laboratory where technology, eco-consciousness and design converge which, time and again, yields the finest in eclectic retro-futuristic fashion. Melissa’s collaboration with British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, Anglomania, evoked squeals of delight from the most seasoned of fashion editors. It’s no wonder the creative elites are queuing up to work with the Melissa group, who, in the past, has also collaborated with renowned architect Zaha Hadid, London fashion designer Judy Blame and Jean Paul Gaultier. The Sao Paulo flagship boutique, Galeria Melissa is the jewel in her crown.

Located on Oscar Freire (Sao Paulo’s Rodeo Drive) in the city’s trendy fashion district, the concept store brings together art and design in an exhilarating ecological manifesto. The store interior changes every six months, showcasing the work of local and international up-and-coming artists, while hosting art and music performances in an open space at the front of the store, and, naturally, featuring the full shoe collection. The initial store design concept was devised by Rio-based designer Muti Randolph (his retro-futuristic designs can also be seen at Sao Paulo club D-Edge), who has gone on to invite guest designers to art-direct the space.