A few years ago my friend, the renowned photographer Sandro Miller, returned to Papua New Guinea to shoot a series of portraits of the people living there. His resulting work was magnetic, capturing the spirit, beauty, and dignity of his subjects. I was blown away and intensely humbled by these powerful women who endure and survive. Their inspiring strength is a reminder of just how privileged we are from where we sit.
Photos by Sandro Miller
I was fascinated with how these individuals chose to decorate their bodies. Whether through paint, beads, feathers, plants, and more, these embellishments go beyond mere coverage, demonstrating a creative expression using elements from nature.
Many of these elements have a fragmented quality that inspired the shapes in this collection, such as the Melisah tunic, a laser-cut leather skin suspended as an apron from ribbon bands; or the Mawi harness, which utilizes cutaways to suspend the skirt from the neck. Beautiful armbands made from feathers and leaves led to the design of the Sharlene detached sculpted sleeves. The Bron dress came from the aesthetic of markings on the body—I wanted it to look and fit like a second skin. To complete the collection, I developed new prints from paintings which I was inspired to create when I viewed Sandro's portraits.
Above all, Sandro’s soulful images convey the strength and determination of this people, empowerment and creative expression revealed through the very act of sitting as themselves. I saw in them my own goals as a designer—to give women beautiful, unique fashion that makes them feel powerful. I am indebted to Sandro and his subjects for projecting these expressions.
— Maria Pinto