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Farida Khelfa

Farida KhelfaFarida Khelfa, born on the 23rd of May 1960 in Vénissieux, Lyon, France is an actress , director of documentaries and former supermodel of Franco-Algerian descent known for Paris (2008), The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007) and Bluebeard (2009).

Born in Vénissieux to Algerian parents, Khelfa grew up in the Lyon suburbs surrounded by eight brothersand sisters. Her own father, an illiterate railway worker, resented her love of books. Her mother could read but, like her husband, struggled to accept modern ways in a country where they felt like unwelcome strangers.

Aspiring to a different kind of life, she ran away to Paris at the age of 16 to live with her sister Djemila where until she became of majority age, she was considered a runaway.

In the French capital, she made several encounters. Shoe designer 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.

She became a model thanks to the coutourier Jean Paul Gaultier in 1979 who 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 runways of the most talented designers of that generation: Jean-Paul Gaultier, Azzedine Alaïa, Thierry Mugler.

Farida KhelfaShe 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. But then she changed direction and became an actress for five years until 1990, when she suspended her film activities for sixteen years.

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. She was also active in television after the 2000s, both in TV movies and for making documentary films.

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, among others.

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.

Farida KhelfaOthers followed, featuring subjects as divergent as the artistic youth of Tunisia before the revolution or the French presidential campaign of 2012.

In 2011, she made a documentary in post-revolution Tunisia, motivated to show educated, articulate Muslims far from the stereotype of western media.

"I remain optimistic. The example of the French Revolution shows you cannot build a democracy from one day to the next."

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 the multi-faceted woman she is.

According to Khelfa: "Elsa Schiaparelli created a style. She managed to impose herself, her image and her style alone. I love what she represented as a woman and the message she was conveying to women..."

Elsa Schiaparelli was an Italian aristocrat born in a Roman palace, Farida Khelfa is one of 11 children born to poor Algerian immigrant parents and raised on a notorious French housing estate.

But now, 123 years after Schiaparelli’s birth and almost 60 years since her fashion house closed and 40 years after her death - her legacy has been embraced by the woman who cheerfully calls herself "the girl from the banlieue." [immigrant-dominated suburban France]

The House of Schiaparelli has been resurrected with Khelfa as its ambassador and the Italian designer Marco Zanini as the creative director.

Farida Khelfa"I cannot tell you how exciting this is," said Khelfa. "We have brought a beautiful name back to the heart of Paris."

Zanini's initial creations for the revived house, based in the chic Place Vendôme, were first shown at haute couture week in January of 2014.

When asked if Zanini is a good fit?

"He is a talented designer who understands the Schiaparelli DNA" she says.

And what about the House of Schiaparelli 10 years from now?

"Back among the most important haute couture names."

Khelfa was born to Algerian parents and she retains that nationality. She spent her youth in Minguettes and in later years became a friend of Carla Bruni-Sarkozy whom she met the first time through Alaïa and with whom she traveled with in the 1990's. She is also friends with the actress Marine Delterme.

In September 2012, After seventeen years together, Farida Khelfa united with the French businessman Henri Seydoux, a former journalist for Current and CEO of Parrot whom she met through Christian Louboutin.

Their marriage was held in Paris, at the Palace, the place they both attended in the 1980's without ever meeting.

Two hundred people were invited to the wedding - among them: Philippe Starck, Christian Louboutin, Mick Jagger, Vincent Darre, Bernadette Chirac, Bernard-Henri Levy and Arielle Dombasle as well as the former president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni.

Farida Khelfa"I am married to a Frenchman, he tells me I am French but I don't feel completely so, because I have this huge heritage, not just from the Maghreb but the Arab and Muslim world ­ generally.

"I don't see myself as Algerian but even with close European or American friends, I know I'm different. I'm comfortable with this; I prefer being of the minority."

The feeling of being different, she believes, helped drive her towards making something of her life.

"But I am not a role model. I did what I did. Just as Zinédine Zidane (the French-Algerian former footballer) did what he did. He would have been Zidane without me."

When she was first noticed by Jean Paul Gaultier, he emphasized that:

"Farida was incredibly beautiful - the nose, the look, the hair. It was not only these wonderful traits, but she had a way of standing - very proud, a natural nobility with nothing pretentious."

Vincent Darre described her as a woman who at the time had "accentuated chest size, fine hair, and an especially spectacular presence."

Farida Khelfa


1980: Mator of Dante Desarthe (short film)
1985 : Night garter belt of Virginia Thevenet
1987 : Games artifices of Virginie Thevenet : Farida
1987 The Keufs of Josiane Balasko
1990 : Pacific Palisades to Bernard Schmitt : Julie
1990: The Arabian Nights of Philippe de Broca : Queen
2006 : Gradiva of Alain Robbe-Grillet : Elvira
2007 : The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Julian Schnabel : herself
2008 : Paris by Cédric Klapisch : Farida
2008: French of Souad El-Bouhati : mother
2009 : Bluebeard of Catherine Breillat : Mother Superior
2009: Crossing the desire of Arielle Dombasle : herself
2009 Neuilly his mother of Gabriel Julien-Laferrière : Nadia

Farida Khelfa


2008 : The indiscreet Bijou (short film) of Arielle Dombasle : the friend Blondie
2009 : Aïcha of Yamina Benguigui n 8 Malika
2011 : Aïcha: job at any price of Yamina Benguigui : Malika
2012 : Bankable of Mona Achache


Farida Khelfa, intimate Campaign , 2012
Farida Khelfa, Louboutin , 2014, 1 st broadcast Arte

Her profile on www.luisaworld.com

Farida Khelfa on Schiapparelli for Style.com Arabia


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Bonesetters Waiting Room

In the Bonesetter's Waiting Room:
Travels Through Indian Medicine

BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week India defies definition, and the story of medicine in India is similarly rich and complex: shaped by unique challenges and opportunities, uniting cutting-edge technological developments with ancient cultural traditions, fuelled by political changes which transformed the lives of millions and moulded by the energy of forceful individuals. Here, Aarathi Prasad investigates how Indian medicine came to be the way it is. Her travels will take her to bonesetter clinics in Jaipur and Hyderabad and the waiting-rooms of Bollywood's best plastic surgeons, and introduce her to traditional healers as well as the world-beating heart surgeon who is revolutionising treatment of the poor around the globe.

Like a Virgin

Exploring the Frontiers of Conception

Sexual evolution is a slippery business. Like all mammals, we humans seem to have been left no choice in the matter: even though it is costly, inefficient and dangerous, if we want to reproduce we simply have to have sex. Yet most human cultures tell the tale of a maiden who gives birth untouched by a man; and in the wild there are plenty of creatures – such as turkeys, komodo dragons, sharks and the ‘Jesus Christ’ lizard (which walks on water, too) – that take various approaches to reproducing without sex.

In LIKE A VIRGIN, the biology writer Aarathi Prasad discusses how reproduction without sex is achieved in animals and explores why evolution hasn’t made it an option for humans – yet. In doing so, she provides a quirky, entertaining and perceptive overview of the mysteries of evolutionary biology, sex and reproduction – past, present and future.

It’s a remarkable story that ranges across Greek mythology, natural history, agriculture, conservation and medicine; takes in some of the most exciting areas of developmental genetics and molecular biology that other popular science books largely ignore; and is packed full of a cast of amazing characters, be they obscure animals or eccentric scientists such as the respected geneticist Dr Helen Spurway who in the UK in the 1950s unwittingly sparked a nationwide search for a virgin mother.

There is now a plethora of strategies being developed in reproductive medicine that could ultimately keep our species going in a world of embellished sex: the creation of artificial eggs and sperm from bone marrow, labs-on-chips on which eggs are fertilized, silicone wombs and artificial wombs (where fetuses can spend their full nine months), and even research to prepare us for reproduction in space. What’s more, we are finally beginning to understand what genetic modifications are needed to allow for the creation of women who could have babies without having sex. Now that we have the competent hand of science in our lives, will girls still need men?

Publisher: Oneworld (UK/US)
Pub Date: 16 August 2012
Status: Draft manuscript
Length: 288 pages

All rights available excluding:
UK & Commonwealth, US, Arabic (Arab Scientific), Japan (East Press)

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Yabanci is a book by a Dutch woman who moved from Holland to Turkey to start a new life in a Turkish village overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. A great read for those who are considering a move abroad or have lived in a different culture. Available in English as an ebook or in Dutch in both print and popular ebook formats... take a look

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