Kabul and the quest for beauty: a tale of Zarif Design

Her name is Zolaykha Sherzad, and I had met her in New York in one of those instances of divine intervention.  Our conversation went something like this:

Me: Where are you from?
Her: From Afghanistan.
Me: What?
Her: From Afghanistan.  I'm a fashion designer.
Me: I'm going to Kabul in a week.
Her: What?

And so it was that I found myself in Kabul heading towards Zarif Design.  On the way over, I had a message on my Blackberry from my security detail with the rumors of the day.  It said, this:

INS are using vehicles that have the Red Cross agency logo on the doors. The INS are planning to enter KABUL City in order to conduct terrorist attacks. 

I typed Received and pressed send.  And then I was at the Zarif Design studio.  It was unmarked, as many places are these days in Kabul. Because you have to know, to know.

In a series of rooms,  the cutters, the embroiderers, the tailors were making Zolay's designs.  



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I had worn a burqa before - that pleated tent-like garment donned by so many Afghan women.  From the burqa's netted window, the world was filmy, and I had no peripheral vision.  

There was none of that at Zarif Design.  

Not shapeless but shaped.
Not minimized but maximized.
Not anonymity but rather identity. 

 An oasis of color, of pattern, of beauty.





I walked out of Zarif Design with a shopping bag full of beautiful clothes.  But really, I walked out of Zarif Design with so much more.



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