ȘURA ȘUȘARA by Ina Solomon

The story goes something like this: Șura Șușara, my maternal great-grandmother, my grandfather’s mother, was of Tatar, Ukrainian and Polish descent. Șura is Russian for Alexandra, and Șușara is her maiden name. She grew up and lived in the White Fortress, a port city on the Black Sea, now part of Ukraine, but in the interwar period belonged to the Kingdom of Romania. Șura Șușara was a tailor as Coco Chanel used to say. A super chic, mega obnoxious old lady, unfulfilled in her love life, but talented beyond words. She would cut the material on you, stitch it up a few times and in an hour the dress was ready. The patterns were invented on the spot.

She was a refugee in Romania and lived the rest of her life in Focșani. There Șura led a grey life. Colour was the only thing she had in her creations, which she did not know how to enjoy. She failed to heed her calling and sewed only for her family. The episode that should have started her career did exactly the opposite. She had to make a dress for the mayor’s wife for a ball. Șura wanted to impress her, so she made her a simple, floor-length black dress of thick silk, but with an abstract peacock embroidered by hand all over the back of the dress. The lady didn’t like it. Șura vowed not to make another bespoke dress for anyone again, except her family. Thus, she became our own fashion designer. I’ve been wearing her creations for as long as I can remember.

In 2021 I decided to relive the story of Șura as I would have liked her to live it, on full display for everyone to see. The first collection was called “The Dream” and it bears the memory of many women in my life with whom I would sit around talking, telling stories of their intimacies, their experiences, fortune telling in coffee, trying on party outfits, dancing, flirting, laughing, making plans, travelling. I woke up one day and lived the dream shared by the energy of kaftan-wearing women.

Our creations have a simple cut, but precisely because it is so simple, it leaves room for the woman to enrich it with her attitude, with the way she wears it. My great-grandmother worked with this philosophy, she said it was about the woman, not the dress. Șura worked in a sustainable way, using scraps and dead stock to bring her ideas to life. My grandmother and my mother wore and wear her garments and accessories and I, 50 years later, relive the story, trying to put light back on what she created, honoured, and humbled by the legacy she left behind.

Șura Șușara is not a brand, it is a story. A story that writes itself, intuitively, instinctively and immersively. It is written together with the women who wear it and inspire it.

Șura has a life of its own. It has its own energy that is felt through the clothes. We bring her patterns and story to life and translate them into a contemporary visual language.