It was a garment apparently adopted to keep warm in the ruins of post-Taliban Kabul, that soon became the signature look of Afghanistan’s new leader.
Hamid Karzai’s instantly recognisable outfit of a purple and green striped coat draped over his shoulders and a lambskin hat saw him lauded as the most stylish man on the planet.
Nearly 14 years on and no longer president, Mr Karzai has now donated one of his traditional chapan coats, which are found throughout central Asia, to the British Museum’s collections.
The museum said it was delighted to receive one of the “world-famous symbols of national and cultural identity” and it would be “an important addition” to its permanent collections.
Mr Karzai has said he adopted his well known look soon after he returned to Kabul, following the ousting of Mullah Mohammad Omar’s Taliban regime for harbouring Osama bin Laden.
He said: “When I started wearing a chapan the girls in Kabul went mad, particularly my female cabinet members and younger people. They told me it looked stupid and too conservative but I was cold. I'd left all my clothes in Pakistan."
He quickly acquired a wardrobe full of them, some lined with fur. When he addressed the UN Security Council soon after the Taliban fell, he said many ambassadors told him they wanted a similar coat.
At the time, Tom Ford, creative director for Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, said Mr Karzai was “the most chic man on the planet today”.
"Visually, he comes across as someone with great elegance and pride," Mr Ford explained.
The donation of his coat to the British Museum was brokered by Nancy Hatch Dupree, an American expert on Afghan art, history and archaeology who has spent more than 50 years studying the country.
Diplomats said Mr Karzai remained an Anglophile during his time in office, even though after the euphoria of the early years of his leadership, relations with London sank sharply. Mr Karzai accused British troops of making the situation in Helmand worse and said officials schemed against him. London, like Washington, was exasperated with corruption in his government.
A spokeswoman for the British Museum said: “We are delighted to hear the news that the office of former President Karzai has confirmed his offer of one of his cloaks as a gift to the British Museum.
“These are world-famous symbols of national and cultural identity and this would be an important addition to our permanent collection.”
She said textiles such as Mr Karzai’s coat are not usually kept on permanent display “because of the risk that they might fade or otherwise deteriorate.”