< Take Me Back


Royah is an ethical design company from Afghanistan, bringing together art and development for women.  A vehicle to present the rich Afghan cultural heritage, Royah was set up in Kabul in 2005, with a handful of women who wanted to make a difference.  Drawing on Afghanistan’s rich cultural heritage, Royah creates contemporary fashions using Afghan textiles, combined with Italian Expertise. Mostly utilizing indigenous hand-loomed fabrics, including the magnificent geometric embroideries made famous by Pashtun women, and working with local artisans, Royah employs traditional and innovative reinterpretations of Afghan fabrics.  Employing twenty women in Kabul, the project is aimed at supporting the condition of women in a place in which access to work and free expression has been denied.

“It is essential to train and support the women who lost so much through twenty-three years of war.”

Historically, Afghanistan was part of the silk route, forming the link between East and West. The country’s silk, once lauded as among the finest in the world, has been one of the countries many casualties, the war robbing Afghanistan of its industry, with ancient and intricate embroidery patterns now lost.  Royah employs skilled Afghan artisans, working to reclaim these ancient handicrafts by using local fabrics; precious hand loomed silks from Herat, cotton Ikat, Chitrali wool, and tribal embroidery patterns. The collections are the result of the continuous search and development of antique Persian and Islamic patterns, reinterpreted in a new trans-cultural and creative manner.

Gabriella Ghidoni, the founder of Royah, is dedicated to promoting and growing ethical fashion. Working in developing countries, she trains vulnerable groups in apparel design and production.  She believes in the value of ethical trading and is committed to sharing her experience as a professional with women in Afghanistan.  Graduating from the Padova University in Italy with a degree in Psychology, Gabriella focused on understanding the real needs of vulnerable people in developing countries.  Honing her psychological skills by working in Sierra Leone, providing counseling relief to child soldiers.  Her work is based on strengthening capacities where there is potential.

Gabriella has lived in Afghanistan since 2003.

For the first year, working as a stress counselor for the UN, then opening “Royah”, her own company and atelier in Kabul.  Royah in Farsi means the woman who has a vision, the dreamer. The vision of Royah is to enable Afghan women to make an income and improve their lives.  Gabriella is also a consultant for the ILO, Terre Solidali, GVC and DACAAR- a Danish NGO working with Afghan refugees in Pakistan and Afghanistan, training them in design and fashion. Using her skills as a fashion designer she trained 40 women in Kabul in fashion apparel and jewelry design. Her students going on to open their own association, working as a profit-making enterprise.

Gabriella’s work has been published in Italian and British magazines, and her designs are available in Italy and Afghanistan.

The last collection produced by Royah was Autumn/Winter 2011-12.

Website: www.royah.org