We must confess: One of the invitations we were most excited to receive during Paris fashion week was from Zahia Dehar.
Why? Well for starters, Dehar has one of the most interesting back stories of any new designer in recent memory: She’s only 21, but when she launched her “couture” lingerie line in January of last year, she had support from the industry’s top dogs, including Karl Lagerfeld, whophotographed her first look book. The attention has something to do with the fact that at 17, Dehar was part of a highly publicized prostitution scandal involving one of France’s biggest football stars (she was reportedly bought as a birthday present for footballer Franck Ribéry).
Fast forward to today.
After presenting three couture week collections (at the last one, she came out for the finale in a chariot holding a baby lamb while rose petals rained down upon her), she’s hired an American PR firm to help introduce her brand to the States. She plans to launch a ready-to-wear line for fall 2013 with price points set to compete with Agent Provocateur.
Of course, we wanted to talk to this fascinating new force in French fashion as well as preview the line, so we scheduled an interview with Dehar at her atelier.
The ready-to-wear line is actually pretty cute. One editor who was there previewing the line at the same time coined the phrase “bow-gina” to describe the high-waisted black underwear with bows at the crotch. There are plastic pasties made to look like dollops of whipped cream. Dehar obviously has a sense of humor about this whole thing, which should serve her well. As for the “couture” pieces that have been shown on the runway, they’re quite intricate and reflect a great deal of skill, even if the pieces are completely impractical. We were told that Dehar has designers from top luxury houses like Givenchy helping out.
After taking a tour of the place–picture the inside of a child’s jewelry box (the kind with the twrirling ballerina) but sluttier: Pink everything, bows everywhere, and seamstresses wearing little black dresses and sky high purple heels–we sat down on a plush settee to wait for Zahia. And wait. And wait.
Our interview was scheduled for 4 p.m. We were told Dehar had “injured herself” (and was wearing flats for the first time ever!) but was five minutes away. And then it was 6:30. Yes, we waited for two and a half hours for Zahia Dehar and she still never showed up, despite multiple reassurances that she was on her way. We waited out of curiosity, then rage, then utter disbelief. If Dehar is trying to introduce herself and her line to the US market, this is not the way to go about doing it. It is, however, a good way to build up mystery and cultivate a “diva” persona. So if that’s the goal, consider it met.
After our rage/disbelief subsided, we have to say, we’re still curious as to how Zahia will do in other markets. Based on what we saw–the production, the design quality, the over-the-topness of the atelier–it’s clear this 21-year-old has some major backing behind her. She’s supposed to come to New York in the coming months to do press for her ready-to-wear line. Despite being left in the cold in Paris, we’ll probably still show up just to see if she’s real.