Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Along the Silk Road


Before the long standing conflict in Afghanistan, one would be forgiven for thinking that a culturally and artistic civilization ever existed there. One would also be forgiven for not thinking that at one stage Kabul was ever called the Paris of Central Asia. During the 1960’s Kabul was developing a vibrant cosmopolitan mood that was once an exotic destination for the world’s fashion elite.

Kabul was emerging as a vibrant destination full of teaming traffic, fashionable stores, and an endless procession of young Americans and Europeans looking for adventure. Centuries old bazaars, Moghul gardens, museums and restaurants all added to this tapestry, along the so-called hippie trail.

During the late 60’s authentic goat-skin coats became Afghanistan’s greatest fashion export,
appearing within the pages of Vogue and reinterpreted by a number of Western designers.

In 1969, this was the Afghanistan that greeted the American Vogue team, when they arrived at Kabul’s International airport. There to do a fashion shoot in Kabul showcasing Afghan fashion and the local sites, the result appeared in the December 1969 issue titled “Afghan Adventure”.

Models were photographed against a backdrop of ancient ruins and thriving bazaars. They
are a stunning set of photographs, playing with perspective and patterns, that paint a bright future for the country that has been ravaged by war.

The accompanying article also featured the Capital’s bright young things; amongst them a young fashion designer named Safia Tarzi.

I am not sure if the clothes pictured were local designs or imports that the crew had bought with them, however they display perfectly, the impact that the Silk Road was having on Western Culture. An impact that warranted an important magazine such as Vogue to come and photograph.

The question arises, now after seeing these pictures is “What would Afghanistan be like today, if there had been no wars?”

39 comments:

  1. It would have been an amazing place! Since I was a little girl I remember seeing a wonderful image from Afghanistan. A woman in a short veil. You could see only the wonderful legs and high heels. That was shoot in the 70s.

    The images are stunning!

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  2. Hello David:
    These are indeed spectacular images which you show here. Such a heady mix of the exotic, the colourful and the original. Afghanistan certainly deserved its title Paris of Central Asia.

    And what, we wonder has befallen the glorious architecture that forms such amazing backgrounds for the models? Truly works of art.

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  3. Such vibrant, incredibly beautiful and haunting images - given that country's recent history. So very very sad, Marjorie

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  4. Interesting, and so brave I think. Who photographed the story?

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  5. Truly devastating to see what had happened in such an amazing place!
    Amazing pics you found, David! Oh~those hand painted tiles, incredible!

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  6. These photos are amazing.
    It's a very interesting post, and it's sad at the same time.

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  7. Oh god, how stupid we all are!

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  8. ohh nice pictures and nice blog!!

    I like it!

    I follow!

    ¡Happy weekend!

    J. Héctor

    http://boyurbandchic.blogspot.com/

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  9. Fantastic exotic images from Afghanistan! I remember the popularity of the Afghan when I was little.

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  10. Beautiful images, David. I believe the Buddha in the 7th image is one of the treasures that the Taliban have blown up.

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  11. I read a book about a year ago- the title of which is alluding me- and it took place in Tehran- I remember imagining and mourning the country that could have, should have, been-

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  12. Fashions come and go but the ancient buddhas of Bamiyan, pictured above, were indeed (as Mark pointed out) blown up in 2001 by the Taliban, they were declared idols.
    Just another example of what intolerance leads to. Some people create, others destroy.
    We shall never know what Afghanistan could have been like without the extremists, we can only hope it rises like a phoenix from the ashes into something beautiful.
    X David

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  13. A lot different than what it is now... I'm sure!
    I always love dropping by to learn and see a little more from your blog David .... great post!
    xx

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  14. It's quite sad to see what Afghanistan has become today. Such beauty all ruined by war.

    http://halfwhiteboy.blogspot.com/

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  15. All I wanted to say is already said in the previous comments...
    Ruined beauty... yes. Sad but true.
    Great post, David.
    XO

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  16. Really great break-down, i enjoyed it the whole way through! With no war, it would probably surpass the amazing locations that are paris, new york

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  17. A truly amazing destination for inspiration and fashion. How sad what violence and turmoil can destroy.

    xRachel

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  18. guess we'll never know how it would have been, such a pity

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  19. The dresses, the landscapes... stunning photography!
    Afghanistan has a amazing cultural heritage.

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  20. OMG !!very nice images I love all the movement photos.attractive pose and creative this post.

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  21. very nice blog :) see mine at:

    http://labaguetteestalamode.blogspot.com/

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  22. Where are you? Where are you? I miss your interesting postings!

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  23. Love those photos. The inspiration in nature and different cultures it's amazing. Take a look at this brand... inspired by those elements, too.
    http://www.brabbu.com

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  24. Thank you for this post!

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  25. Wonderful all Pics and The dresses, the landscapes... stunning photography!

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  26. Beautiful All pics and Superb Posting.

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