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Local designer fashions versatile women’s wear

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Local designer fashions versatile women’s wear
Designer Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé launched her clothing brand Pirouette in 2017. COURTESY PHOTO

Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé wears many hats in a day. She pivots from the role of full-time lawyer and legal editor to the role of mom to the role of out-on-the-town dinner date. These various roles and their ensuing costume changes inspired the launch of her clothing brand Pirouette in 2017. Each of her designs is uniquely created to transition from day to night and role-to-role seamlessly. And not a moment too soon, as she’s now added entrepreneur to her collection of hats.

“I wanted to eliminate that time gap where women are wasting time changing clothes and they’re missing out on things,” says Lorenzo-Hervé. “I saw that men weren’t having that problem at all. We’re sort of trained to buy things for our day and for our night and for different occasions, where men have a uniform that consists of maybe six different pieces.”

On the web

In her experience, it came down to one of two outcomes: Either women were missing out on things entirely due to a lack of versatile clothing, or they were lugging changes with them to and from all their activities. Whereas men need only roll up their sleeves and remove their tie, women needed shoes, jewelry, sometimes a whole new outfit.

“A lot of people talk about pay equity, but who’s talking about time equity?” says Lorenzo-Hervé. “The amount of time that we spent as women just getting dressed, just looking like we ‘should be’ giving the presentation, or we ‘should be’ eligible for that promotion, is way more than men ever have to think about.”

In an effort to level the playing field, Lorenzo-Hervé launched her collection of shape-shifting dresses and separates. Each piece is carefully thought out to serve the needs of the woman who wears it.

For example, “The Multitasker” dress has a removable chiffon top that can be taken off at night to transform the garment from an office-friendly shirt and pencil skirt into a little black dress. Many pieces include hidden zippers that can close slits for office modesty and open them for a night out.

Quality was another important component for Lorenzo-Hervé when creating Pirouette. “I grew up in a Cuban family where my grandmother was making things for us, Halloween costumes and hemming our school uniforms and my quinceañera dress,” she says. “Watching her make whatever she wanted based on a pattern, it made me think there is a way to make things long-lasting that you don’t have to replace.”

Pirouette fabrics, she says, are sourced from high-quality vendors from Italy to Japan to ensure durability, comfort and luxury.

Timeless styles

Those early days watching her abuela sew also impacted Lorenzo-Hervé’s style choices. She’s aiming for classic, timeless silhouettes that will stand the test of decades. Her goal is to provide women with reliable, easy-to-pair wardrobe selections that can look professional, fun and sexy all in one day, without having to refresh your wardrobe every season.

Prints are one of the tools Lorenzo-Hervé uses to keep those classic silhouettes feeling fresh. Before moving to her current residence in Marblehead, Lorenzo-Hervé lived and worked in New York City. It was there that she met artist Marika Kandelaki, a painter with a love for bright colors and abstract patterns. Kandelaki created several one-of-a-kind prints for Pirouette, including the Nolita and Soho prints.

Fitting every body

As a Latina with specific body shape challenges, Lorenzo-Hervé makes it a priority to service women of all shapes and sizes. All her clothing items are tested with a group of everyday women who give feedback on their needs. From these sessions, wider skirts like the A-Game have been created to accommodate wider hips, and pockets have been added to almost every garment. Each piece is available in sizes 0-16 petite and 0-16 regular.

Lorenzo-Hervé is petite herself, and as a result designs first in petite sizing and then in regular before debuting the products together. She says a lot of companies will later on make a smaller version of a regular garment for the petite section without considering whether that style will translate on a shorter body. “We start with petite because the inverse is actually true. It’s normally the case that if it looks good on someone who’s shorter, it will look good on someone who’s very tall,” she says.

Lorenzo-Hervé hopes to partner with a Boston area store at some point to sell her garments in person, but they’re currently available online with free shipping. This spring, Pirouette will debut a sleeveless version of its original shirtdress, in a lighter fabric for warmer weather. Lorenzo-Hervé is also working on a dress that has a draped collar during the day and slides off the shoulder at night.

Whether her pieces are gliding from a board meeting to a PTA meeting or from a brainstorming session to a girls’ night out, Lorenzo-Hervé hopes her dresses feel effortless and elegant through every step of the modern woman’s daily pirouette.