"Filming is like couture. You're sewing a story together day by day" – Farida Khelfa
In conversation with a fashion film icon
lgerian-born fashion muse and filmmaker, Farida Khelfa, jetted into Dubai for Fashion Forward Dubai Season Eight. A mother, a former model, Maison Schiaparelli's brand ambassador and Christian Louboutin's best friend, Khelfa took time out to speak to Buro 24/7 Middle East about women's empowerment, her ambassadorship with the Parisian brand and Fashion Forward Dubai...
One of your most iconic roles to date is as the muse to Maison Schiaparelli. In your opinion, how has the style of the brand changed with time?
It changed completely when Elsa Schiaparelli opened the fashion house in 1927 and closed it in 1954. Today, we try to keep the spirit alive, because the Maison was full of joy, creativity and a lot of energy. She's a very strong woman; she ran her life and did whatever she wanted. She left her family, she came to Paris, she was the it girl of the '20s; so it's interesting to continue her story.
Speaking about being a strong woman, you moved to Paris at a young age too. Coming from a Middle Eastern background, how can women within the region also achieve empowerment on an international level?
We only have one life! So if you don't enjoy it and do what you really want to do, it's difficult. Even if you're surrounded by love, it's still difficult. You know, I have kids and I understand that you want to do everything for them, but it's not a service. We raise our kids to give them wings to fly, for them to go on with their own life. Of course, the first thing we do is to keep them because it is such a blessing to have kids, but they have to run away and have their own life. That's my advice.
I think that women have to make their own rules in life. they need to run their life, otherwise nobody is going to do it for them. you're born lonely, you die lonely, that's my motto.
You're a mother, you're also an actress, a filmmaker and a model as well. How do you manage to balance business and family?
Oh, it's not difficult. It's just a question of desire. If you want to do something, you find time, you find energy. I'm not saying that there are some days when I'm weak, tired or dead (laughs), but you have to keep going, otherwise nobody is going to do it for you.
You started in the fashion industry first and then you moved into film. What was the transition like between fashion and film? Did you feel that you could translate your creative ideas better through film?
Yes. You know, I love the cinema. I go three or four times a week to the theatre. For me, it's the only way to really relax. I also love images, so filming is all about images and for me, it's very easy. Well, easy is not the right word, but I feel very comfortable. I love the editing room as well! I can stay there for about 24 hours. It's fantastic! Filming is like couture. You're sewing a story day by day. You can't even imagine anything before you were filming but you see it coming to life in the documentary.
What's your favourite movie?
I have many favourites! I can't even say which one. If I had to choose, I would say Inland Empire by David Lynch.
Let's talk about your favourite designers. You're best friends with Christian Louboutin and you've worked with a number of really successful designers like Jean Paul Gaultier and Azzedine Alaia. What's one brand or designer you would like to work with and haven't yet?
There's so many. Life is short so I don't have time to work with all of them. But the ones I do work with, I get along with very well because I know how difficult it is to be a designer in the industry.
On a local level, we're here at Fashion Forward Dubai, what are your thoughts about the emerging Middle Eastern designers and their creations?
I just saw a beautiful show from Salta. It's really interesting because you have people from all over the world, not only from the Middle East!
fashion forward is a new world! it's the new fashion, it tells a new story and it's very interesting.
What's one thing people don't know about you?
Many things! One misconception is that I'm tough but I'm actually really fragile.
Why do you think that is?
I know myself. I know what life is like that. You're not born to be tough. It's difficult for everyone to work, and nothing is easy. So it's the same for everyone. We're all the same.