Women's Forum Global Meeting 2022


Zolaykha Sherzad

Zarif Design

Founder & director


Zolaykha Sherzad born in Kabul, Afghanistan. At the age of 10 she had to leave Afghanistan and became a political refugee in Switzerland. She graduated in 1994 from the School of Architecture in Lausanne. She practiced as an architect for different companies in Switzerland, Japan and New York, taught Design Studio at Pratt Institute School of Architecture in New York (1998 – 2004). Determined to help and give back to her homeland, Zolaykha returned to Afghanistan in 2000, founded “School of Hope - SoH” a not- for-profit organization sponsoring education in Afghanistan. SoH is now merged with School of Leadership for Afghanistan – SOLA: www.sola-afghanistan.org. In 2005, she initiated Zarif Design, working with Afghan women in reviving the traditional textile into a modern design, working in Kabul with a group of 36 women and 16 men on developing the Zarif Design Center. www.zarifnyc.com or www.zarifdesign.com Zarif has since presented its collections at fashion shows in Paris, London, Milan, New York and New Delhi. Zarif has also collaborated with acclaimed Paris designer Agnes b, presenting capsule collections at her stores in Paris, Marseille, New York and London. Zarif has also collaborated with famed label TSE Cashmere on a capsule shirt collection for Spring 2014. Zarif has participated in the designs of the costumes for major shows, “One Thousand nights” in Toronto in 2011 and “The Comedy of Errors” by Shakespeare in 2012 at the Globe in London which received the first price. In 2019 in Brussels costumes for the play “De Kabul à Bamako”, directed by Clara Bauer and produced by European Commission & Ethical Fashion. Zarif Design was featured in Mira Nair's movie, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, starring Kate Hudson. In September 2014, Zolaykha was nominated by the World Fashion Week (Board of Governors and International Committee of the World Fashion Week as Official Haute Couture Representative of Afghanistan. Along to her efforts in supporting Zarif Design, Zolaykha worked with several other organizations as a consultant to develop and assess the craft sector and extended to the arts and culture. In 2007 with Aid to Artisans in developing their Design Center in Kabul. In 2008 with Turquoise Mountain Foundation developing their ceramic. In 2018 – 2019 with Ethical Fashion Initiative – International Trade Center – ITC in developing the textile sector in Afghanistan and Central Asia (Uzbekistan). Beyond the world of fashion, Zolaykha has also participated in a number of international art shows including the Venice Biennale, 2009 and Documenta 13, 2012, in Cassel, Germany, where she represented her country with magnificent aerial silk sculptures. And most recently at the Biennale of Havana 2015. In 2019 showing her work at Mucem in Marseille and at MoMu in Belgium “Textile as Resistance”. Zolaykha is the recipient of The International Alliance for Women’s 2012 World of Difference Award.

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