Looking down the runway from the backstage of Australian Fashion Week, Australian-Afghan designer Mariam Seddiq could hardly believe what she saw.
Modeling one of her looks under the glare of the lights was 24-year-old Nazdana Bakhtiari, who just eight months ago fled Afghanistan with her mother, having escaped capture by the Taliban.
“It’s unbelievable. I was like, ‘how did this happen?'” The Western Sydney-born designer said.
“This time last year he was there (in Afghanistan). There’s no way in hell he’d think he’d do something like this.
“A woman can’t even walk out the front door right now.”
The couple first met when Ms Seddiq was looking for women skilled in traditional Afghan beadwork, known as mora doozi, to use on her garments.
A local contact from Fairfield west of Sydney spoke to him with Ms Bakhtiari, her mother Zakia and a friend, who had just arrived in the country, after leaving Kabul airport on a flight. in military evacuations.
“I went to their apartment and I saw their work and I knew I had to incorporate beadwork back into my designs, so that they had work but in an artistic way,” she says.
During their collaboration the idea that Ms Bakhtiari could come out of the shadows to show off her handiwork.
“When I dropped them off at home after working on hand sewing, (Nazdana) mentioned that she wanted to model for me, so she practiced for three weeks,” Ms Seddiq said.
“It seems like a dream to keep it going one step further.”
Ms. Seddiq sees her designs, a mix of couture gowns, suits, and jewelry as a way to empower women.
“It’s not just because of this thing in Afghanistan. A lot of women have forgotten how strong they are and what they can do.
Her show at Australian Fashion Week in Sydney showcased a variety of models with different ages, sizes, genders and ethnic backgrounds.
“It just felt more like a real show than a real curated show of leather models,” Ms Seddiq said.
The former Bankstown Girls High School student has gained a celebrity following, with her designs worn in Orange by New Black actor Diane Guerrero, as well as Australian music stars Iggy Azalea and Delta Goodrem.
Ms Seddiq said Australia was slow to appreciate the multicultural work of these designers.
“I started in LA and got noticed in the US before I started getting any attention at home.
“It is time for Australia to accept its brown people.
Posted , updated