Zalikha “Ossai” Safdari grew up in San Francisco to a family descending from Afghanistan’s last tribal monarchy. Her father worked in King Mohamad Zahir Shah’s government where he was the country’s co-chief architect. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 forced the Safdaris to flee and resettle in San Francisco in 1980. Fearing for their cherished heritage as they saw their country spiral into a devastating civil war, they began resurrecting the rich, ancient and intricate culture they knew in a city that invited tolerance, peace and understanding.
Growing up in San Francisco had a big influence on Zalikha. The city by the bay had an enchanting culture and a free spirit that encouraged self-expression through art, music and fashion. Augmenting this was a diverse culture that fed into Zalikha’s fascination with strong cultural movements from times near and far, like the fabulous 1920s, Victorian England, and Belle Époque.