From an almost fatal accident to starting a menswear brand TISA Studio, Samira Lavekar’s journey has been inspirational. This season, artist Zarina Hashmi’s ode to linearity, Partition and spirituality through art, forms the edifice of her collection.
By Asmita Aggarwal
One incident can change your entire life and in Samira Lavekar’s case it was learning how to walk all over again. Hit by a bus when she was going back home after working at Savio Jon’s studio in Goa to surviving miraculously after 12 stitches on her head, a broken spine, it took her one year to be up on her feet, it was almost a second birth. This forced her to leave her dream job, and move back to Mumbai at the age of 24, and it was a gradual and painful journey to accept her scars, refusing skin grafting procedures. “It made me who I am today,” says Samira.
Though living in Goa was a learning curve, as she interacted with people she adored like Sacha Mendes, who runs her own store in Panjim, Goa, and introduced her to a different point of view through exposure to offbeat publications like ID. “It opened a new world for me,” she affirms.
After studying design at SNDT Mumbai, the internships with Anita Dongre helped instil a sense of discipline in her routine, as the maverick designer, who built an empire mentored her. But Savio was the “real university” as she admired his simplicity in design which later became the cornerstone of Tisa Studio, her label showcased at the LFWX FDCI 2023 show. Joining hands with her school friend and now husband Timir Savla, (thus the name Ti-Sa, first two words of their names), they offer solutions for menswear since 2010.
Belonging to a middle-class family, where her mom was a banker and father working for a pharma company, brother a graphic artist, the entire business was self-funded. Inspired by Scandinavian aesthetics, of minimalism and subtle-ness, it was their bare architecture that infused austerity in the clothing line. “When a groom comes to see us, we let him decide as he knows what will work,” she smiles. The competition never destabilises her, in fact it makes her work harder. This season, the collection is executed in Malka cotton from Hyderabad, to raw silk from Baneras. “Focus is a bit more on fit than fabric, as well as hand embroidery,” she confirms.
The motifs are greatly inspired by their travels, like the Jaipur stepwell has been turned into textures. The FDCIXLFW line is an homage to Zarina Hashmi, an Indian-American artist and printmaker based in New York City. Drawing, printmaking, and sculptures, she was part of the Minimalist movement, and known for abstract and geometric forms. The 1947 partition of India-Pakistan a catastrophic event formed the edifice of her life and work. She saw the violence between Muslims and Hindus fleeing to a refugee camp, images which haunted her, found a way in her drawings, combined with Islamic architecture.
“Home is a Foreign Place”, print series “Letters From Home,” where she used images of houses onto the text of letters written by her sister Rani, or “Homes I Made/A Life in Nine Lines,” is a blueprint of houses she lived in from the 50s as well as “Homecoming” depicts a courtyard surrounded by arches, her childhood home formed the basis of Samira’s collection titled “Lakeer”.
Brimming with the usage of lines, the Devanagari script was used artfully, as well as buttons made from brass, easy structured garments, wide-legged pants, mostly monochromatic, with grey and beige accents are the highlights. “Bring a Kutchi-Gujarati, the business is handled by Timir and he has kept us afloat,” she smiles.