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:: Spotlight :: A look at the Piras Femminile label

By: Annabel Ross

“From Water to Wine” is a clever title for Piras Femminile’s autumn/winter collection. My first thought is that the range has some sort of biblical overtones - I’m thinking of the Virgin Mary in a pale blue robe and the unlikely onset of burkha chic (if Michelle Leslie couldn’t do it…) “Well, actually, I was thinking more along the lines of making something out of nothing, you know, fashioning something amazing from something basic,” Melissa Piras explains. Oh yes, I get it. Makes sense that the catalogue was shot at Aqua e Vino restaurant on Southbank as well. (Aqua e Vino is Italian for Water and Wine).

In its second year of business, Piras Femminile is a relatively young label, but Melissa is no newcomer to the industry. She was one half of the highly respected Piras Soetedja label but ended her partnership with Arthur (with whom she is still good friends and shares a workroom) last year. True to its name, this season Piras Femminile is all about encapturing the essence of being a woman with ‘ladylike’ outfits and the return to a more groomed look. I spoke with Melissa in her Swanston Street studio.

Who were your influences for the current collection?

I was just thinking about a time when women used to dress like real ladies – I was walking down the street in the city the other day and I was just horrified by what some girls were wearing. So my collection this season is a little bit ‘prim and proper’ - I was inspired by Italian women like Isabella Rossellini, Sophia Loren and Monica Bellucci. It’s a classic 40s look.

What can we expect from your new range?

There are a lot of prints and creams. A lot of the pieces are also waisted to accentuate the curves of a woman’s figure.

Your favourite piece?

Probably the Devotion halter dress in blue, red and cream (which can be seen on the front page of the Piras Femminile Autumn/Winter 2006 catalogue).

What’s the best thing about your job?

Flexibility, I guess, and being able to tackle what you feel like doing on any given day.

And the worst?

Chasing money is no fun!

Which celebrity would you love to dress and why?

Probably Scarlett Johannsen - she’s stunning. And Keira Knightley - those lips! They’re both really naturally beautiful.

What are your top picks for autumn/winter?

Boots are essential, I love distressed leather boots, and particularly ankle boots this season, in tan. Tan goes with everything and can be worn all year round.

What was the last cheap thing you bought?

I bought some really cheap nail polish the other day for like $2 in the Hairhouse Warehouse bargain bin! It’s bright orange. I love buying cheap nail polish in crazy colours.

Pet fashion hate?

I can’t stand seeing women on the train wearing runners with their business suits so they can walk to work. Especially with skirts and stockings, it looks terrible! Even my Dad commented on it! Just buy some nice comfortable flats or something!