I’d like to explore the positive influences the East has contributed to the West and remember a time when the two borrowed from and exchanged ideas with each other. An area that fascinates me is the historical influence of Eastern fashion on the West. Did you know that the West adopted the idea of buttons from the East? In the early Medieval period, European clothing was normally secured with brooches, pins, or laces (also known as points). Buttons were part of the Middle Eastern and Central Asian tradition of coats from an early date.
The Moors wore long gown with buttons, but buttons were not adopted by the Spaniards until later. Buttons can also be seen in a Moorish ceiling painting in the Alhambra (c. 1354). By 1292, button making is one of the trades listed in a document from Paris, so by this date, buttons were beginning to come in to use in France at least.
The sixteenth century was a period in which in both war and commerce the Ottomans were a crucial issue for the European powers. Henry VIII is known to have been taken with Turkish dress. He appeared dressed as a Turkish Sultan as part of a masquerade at an English court. Toward the end of his reign in 1542, Henry VIII posed for a portrait that is a striking comparison (apart from headgear) to that of his contemporary, Süleyman the Magnificent, but because of the pose even more dramatically resembles that of a later sixteenth-century sultan, Mehmed III.
On sixteenth century European coats, rows of horizontal bands form distinctive closures not previously seen in European fashion. Comparable examples can be seen on kaftans from the late 15th century in the Topkapi collections. The Turkish examples use an applied flat silk braid joining the fronts with a button and loop; Henry’s more ostentatious Mannerist version is created in bejeweled gold, but braid equivalents were also being used. This type of closure first appears in European dress in the first half of the sixteenth century, and would become a staple of European fashion, particularly associated with military or ceremonial dress.
However, it does not only appear as a closure on men’s coats. A portrait of Elizabeth I c. 1575 has a bodice closed with bands of decorative braid. When trade negotiations were concluded in 1581 between the Ottoman Empire and the English, the exchange of royal gifts included an entire ensemble of Turkish clothing sent by Sultan Murad to Elizabeth.
If you know vintage fashion, then you’ve definitely seen the Afghan coat, one of the biggest fashion trends of the late 60’s and 70’s. Made out of sheep or goat skin on the outside and soft fleece on the inside, the coats were embroidered with fine silk thread in different floral or geometric patterns. It made its first appearance in the West onto the London fashion scene in 1966, just as fashion was becoming more influenced by Eastern looks. Craigs Sams was an English entrepreneur who imported the coats from the Ghazni province and sold them to London boutiques including Granny Takes A Road Trip. One day, a band named The Beatles visited the shop and emerged wearing Afghan coats. Once they were photographed in them, it set off a worldwide trend that continued through the 70’s (even today, you can see variations of this boho-chic coat on the runway and the streets). The coats were so popular that rockers David Bowie and Eric Buron wore them on their wedding day.
John Lennon wearing an Afghan coat (now in the Julian Lennon collection)
October 28th, 2015 – I’ve always been inspired by the mod and boho fashions of the 60’s. Maybe it has to do with growing up and seeing photos of my parents in the late 60’s/early 70’s wearing groovy clothes from a lost time in Afghanistan – a “golden era” when there was peace, stability and style – when Kabul was known as the “Paris of Central Asia”. In the photos, there my mom was in her handmade or custom tailored dresses she designed, standing next to my dad who was young and excited about the future. Or maybe it has something to do with growing up in America and being drawn to reruns from popular shows from the 60’s (“The Monkees” was my fave!) and being fascinated by style and beauty trends – the voluminous hair, the Jackie O dresses, the winged liner, the mod cuts and the graphic bold prints and colors. Perhaps I’m reminded of when both Afghanistan and America were at peace with each other – a seemingly fun and glamorous chapter for my parents and for so many Afghans. Maybe part of me wants to freeze that time before war and destruction changed everything. Whatever the reason is, to this day, the late 60’s have subconsciously been my inspiration in so much of my work – from my fashion collections to the branding of FLOW Blow Dry & Beauty Bar. Call me old fashioned – or an old soul – I love that era and the love vintage clothes from the 60’s/70’s.
In the 60’s and early 70’s, Afghanistan was an exotic destination for both the world’s fashion elite and young hippies looking for adventure. Kabul was vibrant and had cute little boutiques and bazaars selling beautiful textiles, jewelry, fabrics and fashions.
Road trip in Afghanistan in the 60’s – it’s unfortunate that we can’t do that these days
When Vogue magazine landed in Kabul in 1969, the result was an editorial called “Afghan Adventure” which appeared in the December issue of that year. The spread was gorgeous of models standing against ancient Afghan ruins and the beautiful rural landscape. I would love to get my hands on an original copy of this issue!!
Vogue’s December 1969 cover (left) and patterns at a Kabul dressmaking school in the 60’s.
October 21st, 2015: VERY EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT!!! For those who have followed my work, I was designing clothes in NYC for almost 10 years and for a few years, created & produced an online show called Beauty and the East TV where I featured entertainment stories that united cultures. After having kids and opening FLOW Blow Dry & Beauty Bar, I put fashion & media projects on hold yet chronicled my fashion/style/mom journey with a new blog a couple years ago. Between juggling two salons and three kids, I didn’t always have the time to post as much as I wanted to. But in the past few years running FLOW, I’ve realized how I’ve missed design/styling and want to get back to what I’m truly passionate about. I am now looking forward to combining my LOVE for fashion with the beauty industry & FLOW!!
I’m excited to announce the launch of Beauty and the East by Samira Atash: a blog about style, beauty and lifestyle inspired by my ‘Silk Road’ cultural roots and global influences. I’m drawn to tribal-bohemian-vintage styles and the bold patterns, embroideries, textures, prints and vibrant colors of Central Asia & Middle East (my previous fashion collections were inspired by the tribal embroideries of Afghanistan). I will also explore and introduce to you ancient and exotic Eastern rituals to spice up your beauty routine. I love organic/natural products, being a mom to my three little ones, music, social causes & pop culture. What to expect in the blog:
– Fashion & style with a bohemian/tribal/gypsy vibe
– Beauty/style trends & rituals inspired by Central Asia & Mediterranean culture
-Organic products, beauty tips & trends
-Hair & makeup styles/tips
-Fashion, beauty & home DIY & tutorials
Even more exciting – many people ask me “where can I buy what you’re wearing”: now you can shop jewelry & fashion on my new SHOP page: an online boutique of jewelry, accessories, clothing and beauty products with a tribal & global vibe!! With designs that appeal to free spirits, items are inspired by culture…capturing the bohemian spirit of the Silk Road, a bit of Mediterranean aesthetic, and a whole lot of soul. The boutique includes brand new and vintage designs from around the world. Some items are from my past collections & personal closet! Click on the SHOP link above!!
Get ready to see Beauty and the East by Samira Atash collaborate with FLOW Blow Dry & Beauty Bar through photo shoots, editorials & events to come!!
I’m VERY excited about this and can’t wait to share the looks with you!!!
Thursday, October 15th, 2015 – I was invited to a luncheon at the Belgium Residence in Washington DC on behalf of the Alliance Francais, and my dear friend Sarah Diligenti, this afternoon. The event celebrated the supporters and sponsors of the “Beyond the Little Black Dress” fashion show two weeks ago (my company FLOW Blow Dry & Beauty Bar sponsored the hair and make-up). The home was beautiful, filled with magnificent statues and exquisite artwork. The Ambassador of Belgium and Mrs. Verbeke are lovely and gracious. I loved meeting all of the accomplished and distinguished people, eating French food and getting to know different people seated at my table. I wanted to add a little bit of my Afghan roots to my outfit, so I wore an Afghan lapis lazuli necklace, embroidered sweater and eyelet dress. This is my version of business attire : )
Jacket: Lucky Brand
Dress: Catherine Malandrino
Necklace: Afghan Lapis Lazuli
Purse: Marc Jacobs
On Friday, September 24th, 2015, FLOW Blow Dry & Beauty Bar was the exclusive hair and makeup sponsor for the “Beyond the Little Black Dress” fashion show in Washington D.C. at the Dupont Circle Hotel. The event was organized by the Alliance Française de Washington and showcased local and international designers and artists to benefit the AFDC’s cultural programs. The fashion show was a huge success and in the audience were socialites, diplomats, DC fashionistas and more. The Ambassador of France and Monaco were also there!
My team of FLOWistas arrived at 2 pm, and were on schedule to complete hair and make-up for 22 models by 6:30 pm. I created a spreadsheet based on the designer’s line-up and the model board given to me. Some of the models included Miss DC United States, Ms United States, Miss Teen United State, Ms Delaware and other beauties. We started half an hour late, but managed to get through the looks by the time the show started. Some of the looks were smokey eyes, red lips, up-dos, half-dos, wavy hair, braids, natural looks, etc. Everyone was happy! As the exclusive sponsor, FLOW was recognized widely at the event. In the VIP bags, we tied together a FLOW coupon and cute little beauty gifts with a bow (make up brushes, beauty blenders, manicure sets!). Our logo was also displayed on the step & repeat board, in the program menu and mentioned on stage many times.
It was a tiring, but fun event. We worked hard, we delivered amazing looks, and FLOW’s visibility in the DC area is only growing! Here are just some of the pictures from the event taken – professional pics and video are coming soon!
On the last weekend before summer unofficially ends, we decided to take a Sunday drive to a sunflower field – our last hurrah. Nestled in between beautiful vineyards and rolling hills is a breathtaking farm filled with flowers you can pick and take home for about a buck per stem. Most of the sunflowers were past their peak – wilted and sadly looking downwards (as if knowing that summer is over) – yet many who were still gazing happily at the sun enjoying the last warm days of the season. The weather was unusually perfect. The only imperfect moments were that I stubbed my toe on a tree stump in the fields (who asked me to wear open-toed sandals!) and that towards the end, Nik and Zaki were super cranky. But the rest of the afternoon was dreamy. We picked up some French cheese, baguettes, sandwiches, and fruit and enjoyed a picnic under the trees. It sort of felt like we were in a European countryside for a moment. Afterwards, we took the kids into the flower fields. The boys were a bit scared of the huge sunflowers at first, but quickly warmed up to them. It was a beautiful afternoon of picking flowers, blowing bubbles, picnicing and feeling the warm sun. A day that Rumi said was the “best day ever”. It’s moments like these that I cherish with my children. Goodbye Summer….
We just spent one week at Bethany Beach with a few of our friends and their children. We rented a beautiful home that has been featured in several magazines – it was so serene and only a few steps from the beach. I planned on taking more pictures but things were more hectic than I thought (going to the beach with two little one year olds was a lot harder than we anticipated – packing all the gear felt like a move!)
I love a bohemian, relaxed, colorful look at the beach. I’m not about to wear a bikini (never liked to!), and love vibrant cover ups, hats and big glasses. Here are some of the looks I wore:
I found this cute red embroidered caftan at Marshalls! Not even sure what brand it is and don’t even care – it’s so comfy and I adore the embroidery. it was the perfect beach cover up. I paired it with a striped straw hat, oversized glasses and a handmade turquoise necklace I picked up from a jeweler at a flea market years ago: