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?”

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