The fabrics, the hand embroideries, the ornate but cheap jewels and the colourful clothes which seem so exotic in Western eyes are accepted as ordinary and everyday in Afghanistan; but it takes sophisticated know-how to appreciate and capitalise on the exquisite workmanship involved. Their shaggy coats, sold over here by the thousand, are bargains, especially when you consider how much warm cloth coats cost nowadays, and even though the Afghans have still to perfect a way of treating the skins to stop them smelling. They undersell their goods, having little idea of what they are fetching overseas, and they have no set sizing system. In other words, to make their fashion industry commercially viable it needs organisation and expertise. Margaret Kimber, an English girl who recently spent 18 months in Kabul, proved in a small way that this can be done. She turned her home into a workshop, bought bales of fabric, employed local labour to make up her designs and returned with the clothes shown on these pages. We photographed them in Paris on Shakira Caine, a flawless Indian beauty from Guyana, a former Miss World contestant now married to actor Michael Caine. A model before her marriage, she was the sexy girl in the television coffee-bean ad. A selection of these dresses, all different, ranging in price from £28 to £40, as well as jewellery (examples of these are shown on the cover), are available from Stock, 236 Fulham Road, London SW10, and at 131 High Holborn, WC1. Some of them are shown on these pages. The cushions and wall-hangings are from Mohanjeet, 21 Rue Saint-Sulpice, Paris 6.
By Meriel McCooey.
Photographed by Eva Sereny.
Scanned from The Sunday Times Magazine, 17th March 1974.