It was at Paris‘ Le Palace, a nightclub where Farida Khelfa worked, that Frédérique Lorca, a designer from Jean Paul Gaultier’s studio, “discovered” the French-Algerian 16-year-old and brought her in to model. “My first meeting with him was very touching,” reflects Khelfa. “I could sense right away that he liked me, and that was very reassuring.” She went on to play muse for Gaultier for years, but he wasn’t the only one captivated by her otherwordly beauty and charm.
Throughout her career, the model, actor, and filmmaker has piqued the interest of multiple designers, working with the likes Azzedine Alaïa, Thierry Mugler, and was hand-picked as a spokesperson for Schiaparelli in 2012. Her position as a force of fashion has lasted for nearly four decades. Most recently, Khelfa was chosen as one of the four cover stars to grace the October issue of Vogue Arabia, alongside other trailblazing Arab women, Afef Jnifen, Kenza Fourati, and Hanaa Ben Abdesslem. Following the cover shoot, lensed by British fashion photographer Tom Munro, the icon sits down with Vogue Arabia’s editor-in-chief Manuel Arnaut to talk about her career highlights, the world’s perception of Arab women, and diversity in fashion.