Designer profile: Zahia Dehar
When sex and fashion really mix...

Feb 10, 2013 08:55
by Haris Stavridis


Lingerie designer, model for Karl Lagerfeld and Terry Richardson, former underage escort. Can you spot the odd one out in Zahia Dehar's story? If there were such a thing as a fairy tale for adults, Zahia would appear to own part of the copyright.

Zahia Dehar is a 20-year-old lingerie designer who was born in Algeria, but who moved to Paris after her mother's messy divorce at the age of ten. She did not speak a word of French. She started bar-hopping at fourteen... and had her first client as an escort right after her sixteenth birthday - but that's not all! A major scandal involving Zahia and three top French soccer players propelled her to stardom in France.

All of this is Dehar's story before the “I am going to become a fashion designer” part.

From courts to catwalks.

During a police raid on Café Zaman (a place where Zahia met her VIP clients) the Algerian teenager revealed that she was involved with three well-known football players: Franck Ribery, Karim Benzema, and Sidney Govou. The case made huge headlines, as she was underage at the time.

Zahia's story (as well as her inflated curves) caught the attention of V Magazine and Vanity Fair Italy, both of which promptly placed her on their covers. With all eyes on her, it seemed like the right time for Dehar's next step: fashion design.

After securing the backing of a Hong Kong-based equity fund and support from Karl Lagerfeld (who shot her first campaign), Zahia launched her lingerie collection last year. Not surprisingly, the attention and countless debates regarding her role in fashion that followed helped her to further establish her controversial brand.

Her collections are surprisingly whimsical. There are references to fantasy or storybook figures: the milkmaid, the flower fairy, the sylph. Her Fall/Winter 2012 collection had strong visual motifs with themes like "Iced"; "Cake and Candy" and "The Bride". Her designs are sometimes innocent (such as the bodice that looks like a bunch of lavender), sometimes outrageously provocative. Many are surprisingly elegant and with a theatrical flair that belies her tabloid-tacky entrance into the public imagination. 

So, what’s next for the manga-like Barbie doll? According to WWD and Tugdual Denis, the brand’s operations director, more expansion. “Down the line we want to branch out and diversify into swimwear, hosiery and cosmetics. We want to build a lifestyle brand.”

How do you think this NSFW fairy tale is going to end? Is she going to give Victoria's Secret a run for their money?

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