I first saw a Melissa shoe at Obus. Its graded orange hue, perfect ankle strap, heel and velvety texture captured my attention like few others. Her name was ‘Temptation Degrade’ and I fell in love immediately.
It’s a love affair that Brazil has been immersed in for around 30 years, beginning with the signature jelly baby, which spurred the design of other PVC Melissa shoes. The footwear is made entirely from eco-friendly plastic in matte, shine and an incredible suede texture referred to as ‘floc’.
In the chaos of Melbourne Central’s ground floor – amongst competing soundtracks, busy shoppers and small food operations – the Melissa Pop Store stands out like an adult candy shop. Opened as part of the State of Design Festival, this treat for the eyes is both a shoe store and a mini exhibition.
Vibrant rainbow spinning wheels made from old stock – including heels, ballet flats, sandals and boots – attached to steel frames pepper the space. A slick gallery of fashion photographs details Melissa’s recent history. The store also smells a little like bubblegum.
Available at the Pop Store are Melissa’s most recent collaborations with high-end designers. Lining the walls are architect Gaetano Pesce’s modifiable bubble boots, which can be cut and personalised by attaching fabric, buttons and odd bits and pieces. Having partnered with Melissa back in 1982 in the creation of a plastic sneaker, Jean Paul Gautier’s reunion with the brand has resulted in a 10cm chiselled plastic stiletto mesh boot. Vivenne Westwood’s designs steer towards timeless feminine shapes. Her 50s style heels invoke her statement that “the most amazing thing was to be able to create modern products, with very high quality, for affordable prices”. Evident in each partnership is the conservation of each artist’s design ethos, despite working with a completely different, inexpensive set of materials.
The girl in the shop tells me a lot of people walk in with a sense of nostalgia, saying, “Oh my God, I haven’t been in a Melissa store in so long.” In addition to the design collaborations, older styles are also available, including flats, jelly babies, gumboots, sandals and strappy heels. An advantage of the distinct PVC material is the truly eye-catching reds, browns and deep purples it permits.
Having been open for over two weeks as the only Melissa shop in Australia, the Melissa Pop Store has the intention of staying open for up to six months with the possibility of a permanent store opening in Melbourne afterwards.
Melissa Pop Store
Ground Floor Melbourne Central
300 LaTrobe Street, Melbourne
Mon to Thu 10am–6pm
Sat to Sun 10am–6pm