Zahia - From Tragedy To Triumph - The Journey Of A Modern Day Princess, 7HollywoodMag - Fall 2013/14
Zahia is revered for having a body of exceptional proportions, curvaceous, nubile, she is an object of fantasy, an icon, an unattainable nymphet. As a model, she has been photographed by the likes of Ellen Von Unworth,Ali Mahdavi, Terry Richardson and Alix Malka. She has also starred in films by Greg Williams playing a bionic superwomen, while her torso has also been cast by French sculptor Pierre Passebon.
In a world of opulence, indulgence and over consumption, Zahia’s tale is far more than style over substance. Born in Algeria in 1992, she moved to Champigny-sur-Marne a poor suburb of France at the age of 10 in 2008 with her mother and younger brother. Not yet a prolific French speaker, she became embroiled in controversy, just a few years later when it was alleged she was paid for sex while underage by several players from the French national football team.
After various players were investigated, the incident was largely forgotten and allegations against players have floundered. Still this incident, and Zahia’s penchant for posting indiscreet photos on Twitter, have seen French press brand her with the nickname ‘a scandaleuse "the scandalous."
Parallels are often drawn between Zahia and iconic designer Coco Chanel. A one time escort, Chanel was rumored to have consorted with Nazis during world war 2 both romantically and commercially. Much of this has been documented in the 2011 Hal Vaughan book, "Sleeping with the Enemy- Coco Chanel's Secret War."
Despite being described routinely in French magazines as the "micro-Bardot of the towerblocks", Zahia has defied such vicious typecasting. Chanel’s head creative Karl Lagerfeld, who photographed her for her look book and is now a close protégé, celebrated her status, saying she is fascinating because she was a reminder of France's 18th century courtesans, the mistresses of the rich and powerful. "She is very French courtesan, like Liane de Pougy or the Belle Otéro. This is a purely French tradition that the whole world admired and copied," Lagerfeld said.
The 21-year-old, who appeared dressed as a doll in a Barbie box at the start of her last catwalk show said of her lingerie line, "Through this Couture Collection, I hope to prove that nothing is impossible to those who dream. I will lead you to a kingdom where Woman is queen." At around 500 Euros per garment the high –end range is indeed aligned to a royal demographic.
Set to be released in the US, the 'couture lingerie' line was initially presented by a team of models during Paris fashion week in 2012. A flamboyant collection of bridal G-strings with mini trains, red satin knickers trimmed with bows and decorative pasties, the line won over many fashion pundits.
Meanwhile fashion industry trade bible WWD reported that Decades co-founder Cameron Silver called the escort-turned-designer fascinating." She’s like a Barbara Walters special,' Silver said. "The fashion world is so filled with outside-the-box personalities – who I think tend to be the ones that succeed the best - and I think she’s a perfect example of being outside the box but really very committed to creating this brand."
Speaking to the New York Post, Manhattan-based lingerie expert Jené Luciani added of the eagerly anticipated line, "Zahia’s range is pretty, feminine and, most of all, unique."Dehar’s headline-grabbing missteps clearly add to the appeal. "America loves the infamous as much as the famous, and we will find her fascinating for sure."
Zahia isn’t just about underwear – she’s an artist too. In addition to teaming with the likes of Pierre and Gillers and Nick and Chloe, just weeks after her fashion show at the Palais Chaillot, she made an impression on the Paris art world with an exhibition of her own works and several high profile collaborations. She chose the prestigious Gallery Passebon to reveal her artistic flair with a raft of celebrities and art critics offering valuable praise.
The exhibition displayed a carefully curated selection of her drawing books, large format framed photographs clips ands sculptures, including, eight metal moldings of her torso she had commissioned by a third party. Gallery owner Pierre Passebon, said of the show, "My encounter with Zahia was an aesthetic revelation." comments "Her body is a real sculpture, it is the very expression of her art".
Now on a path of logical progression, Zahia and her marketing team are set to globally expand. As well as a tea shop baring her name in downtown Paris ( that also sells her cupcakes) she reportedly turned down an offer of one million Euros to be part of a German reality TV. Now her focus seems to be the US with a forthcoming campaign marketing her upscale lingerie, set for the US market in the Fall of 2013/14 There are also several filmic opportunities and a rumored reality TV series in the works.