From Z to A: Extraordinary Rise of Zahia


The Former Call-Girl at the Heart of the French Football Scandal in 2010 has her Feet Firmly in the Upper Echelons of French Society.

At the age of 20, the girl once known as the under-age prostitute that allegedly engaged in regular servicing of certain members of the French national football team (Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema), is a couture designer and protegee of Karl Lagerfeld.

A new documentary entitled “Zahia de Z à A” (Zahia from Z to A) is about to be aired on French cable television station Paris Premiere.

Since the scandal and subsequent trial broke almost three years ago, Algerian-born Zahia Dehar has been more-or-less absent from the airwaves. Tonight, however, an 80-minute documentary written and directed by Hugo Lopez is set to break the silence.

Now a lingerie designer (star French actress Emmanuelle Béart was at her first fashion show), she can pride herself as being considered an “icon” in the words of no less than Karl Lagerfeld. According to the German-born Paris-based designer who is a bit of an icon himself, Zahia encapsulates “a very French tradition of gallantry”. On RTL radio last Monday, the young designer spoke about her new job:

“I’ve always loved creating dress… I’m very happy to be able to make a career out of it today.” Her incendiary past seems to be behind her. “I’m able to talk about it all now. It was quite a difficult stage in my life and I’m happy to have got through it and to be able to move on to something else,” she said, before adding: “The experience helped me all the more to be able to protect myself.”

According to director Hugo Lopez, meanwhile, Zahia has let her guard down. He was interested in the woman that was hiding behind the public figure that was thrust into the limelight in scandalous circumstances at the age of 16. How did she live through this experience and how did she manage such a prickly situation? Over the course of a whole month, Zahia agreed for the first time to be followed around by a production team. In the documentary, she reveals the woman and the fashion designer that she has become.

Many French households will be glued to the screen but not, perhaps, too many footballers’ wives.

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