In Conversation with Farida Khelfa

TIME: Friday, 21 October 2016, 19:00
SPEAKER: Farida Khelfa, Schiaparelli Ambassador and Filmmaker
MODERATED BY: Caterina Minthe, Features Director, Vogue Arabia


Farida Khelfa
Schiaparelli Ambassador and Filmmaker


Born in Vénissieux to Algerian parents, Farida Khelfa grew up in the Lyon suburbs surrounded by eight brothers and sisters. Aspiring to a different kind of life, she ran away to Paris at the age of 16. In the capital, she made several encounters. Christian Louboutin became her best friend. Together, they went out at night to party at the famous Palace. 

Her personality, her allure, her silhouette and her beauty, far removed from the aesthetics of her era, defined her as a young woman whom nobody could ignore. In 1979, Jean Paul Gaultier noticed her and asked her to partake in his fashion show. This first catwalk experience jump-started her modeling career. After that she was often present on the podiums of the most talented designers of that generation: Jean-Paul Gaultier, Azzedine Alaïa, Thierry Mugler… She incarnated a spirit and a look that hinted rebel while also encapsulating the desire for diversity that was the rage of that era.  

Meanwhile she worked at the Bains-Douches, where as a physionomist she decided who could enter the nightclub. This is when she met Jean-Paul Goude who considered her his muse. The photographs they produced together quickly became legendary. 

Inspired by all these experiences, Farida involved herself in the cinema as early as 1985. Her career as an actress and a model ended in 1995 when she decided to join Azzedine Alaïa’s design studio. In 2002, she became the head of Jean Paul Gaultier’s Haute Couture salons. 

In 2004, Farida became once again independent. She went back to the world of cinema. She was filmed by Alain Robbe-Grillet, Julian Schnabel, Cédric Klapisch, Catherine Breillat… As with fashion, where she worked first as a model, then with designers, in 2010 she switched from actress to film direction. Her first documentary showcased the success story of Jean Paul Gaultier. Others followed, featuring subjects as divergent as the artistic youth of Tunisia after the revolution or the French presidential campaign of 2012. 

But, fashion remains one of the main pillars in her life. In May 2012, Farida Khelfa became the House of Schiaparelli’s ambassador, evoking the purest spirit of a multi-faceted woman as embodied by the founder of this mythical house.


Caterina Minthe
Features Director, Vogue Arabia


Caterina Minthe is the Features Director of Vogue Arabia. 

Minthe is currently the Managing Editor of, which is being re-launched as Vogue Arabia in Autumn 2016; she has been with since its inception. In her role as Managing Editor, Minthe oversees editorial content, covers in-depth interviews with industry heavyweights, advocates emerging talent across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, and reports live during international and regional fashion weeks.
Prior to, Minthe worked at two Dubai-based fashion magazines and also lived in Mexico, Egypt, and Uganda, where she operated as an emerging market cultural correspondent for The Times and The Washington Post. A polyglot, TedX speaker, and violinist, Minthe is based between Paris and Dubai and lives with her husband, their two young children, and a boisterous Italian greyhound, Emile.