Think finely detailed, vivid Kashmiri crewel work on leather. Think a Buddhist prayer vessel shaped into a bag. Think an ornate ring as the clasp for a jewelled clutch. Think Meera Mahadevia, the bag couturier for whom there is nothing more precious than handcraftsmanship drawn in from the treasured interiors of India.
“My creations are a part of my soul, a reflection of my own journey,” she says as we settle down to chat in her plush apartment in South Bombay, where Indian vignettes abound in stone sculptures, mosaics and textured cushion covers. “I have broadened my canvas to replay my renditions in multiple materials—from stone to metal to fabric—it is an endless realm,” she explains.
After designing bags for 35 years—which have been sported by the likes of Maharani Gayatri Devi, Elizabeth Hurley, Frieda Pinto, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Anushka Sharma and Gauri Khan to name a few—Meera has now forayed into home decor, bringing in that same classic touch, powered by a close knit group of artisans she has been working with all these years. Her luxury handbags, belts, jewellery and wedding accessories have always drawn on the beautiful craft traditions of theva, bidri, phulkari and inlay work—now she has extended the same design techniques to doorknobs, frames, visiting card and phone holders, curtain clasps, bed headrests, chair backs and more. Like, for instance, a nameplate with lapis lazuli peeping from behind a wired mesh. “I call it metamorphosis as each one of us meets multiple challenges in life to evolve as a butterfly,” she says with a smile.
Clearly, there is a narrative behind every piece as Meera aligns her works with the energy of the home that she is working on. Her mood boards do not brew on the computer, they marinate through her travels—from sipping kullad chai on a charpoy in Kutch with artisans to working on thangkas in Dharamsala to staying with an artisan family in a tiny room in a virtually inaccessible lane in Jaipur, she does it all seamlessly. “Travel is my window to the world,” she confesses.
The range of her latest Urban Tapestry collection of luxury handbags brings in a realm of precious and semi-precious stones, woven textiles, brass and copper. Stone work stands proudly embellished with metal wire work, engraving, etching, and embossing together with a rich infusion of quilting with hand embroidery.
Her bags and accessories have always celebrated the Indian renaissance (it all began with her innate desire to create bags that would complement traditional Indian textiles), and her work in home decor has replayed her knowledge of Indian aesthetics and training in textiles to a global complexion. “I feel truly blessed, to be able to interlock the old with the new,” she says simply. “But my desire to learn is insatiable. It is like a spiritual quest and I thrive on it.”
For Meera, excellence lies in detail, and the spectacular success of her eponymous label is a vibrant testament. A regular participant at premier Indian and international fashion events, including shows at London, Singapore, Tokyo, Osaka and Bangkok, Meera was also the first accessories major from India to be invited to show at the elitist Vendome Luxury Fair in Paris. Not only that, she has also been felicitated at the prized Newark Museum Gallery in the US for her outstanding contribution to design and creativity.