Call girl to cover girl: Former underage prostitute paid for sex by footballer launches lingerie line – and Chanel's Karl Lagerfeld shoots the lookbook
One year ago French Moroccan prostitute Zahia Dehar made headlines after it was claimed she had been paid for sex while underage by three French football stars.
While their lives were shattered by the allegations, 19-year-old Zahia's fortunes were transformed entirely.
And today, her metamorphosis from call girl turned cover girl is complete, as Zahia launches a line of lingerie at Paris couture week with a lookbook photographed by one of the world's top designers.
For a girl who just a year ago was selling her body for cash, the transformation has been dramatic.
Turnaround: Former underage prostitute Zahia Dehar, now 19, is to launch a lingerie line at Paris couture week today, with photographs shot by Karl Lagerfeld
Prostitution is legal in France where the accused men lived, but women selling sexual services must be 18 years old or over.
Zahia was just 16 when she met French footballer Franck Ribery, 28, and 17 when Karim Benzema, 23, and Sidney Govou, 31, were accused of paying an underage vice girl thousands of pounds for sex.
The men involved in the allegations faced up to three years in prison and fines of up to 40,000.
Ribery's lawyers say they have proved he could not have known Zahia was underage at the time that he paid her for sex. The allegations levelled at the other two men have never been proven. Nonetheless, the reputations of all three men were left sullied.
But while the men were disgraced, Zahia capitalised on her notoriety, turning her life around entirely.
Soon after the allegations came to light, Zahia became a lingerie model, appearing on the cover of V magazine and in Vanity Fair Italy, among other publications.
The latest venture for the former call girl is a line of 'couture' lingerie which Zahia is to present this afternoon at the high profile haute couture week.
Blonde Zahia has attracted much attention with her figure – transforming herself from call girl to cover girl in a matter of months
Indeed, such is Zahia's appeal that she has managed to enlist the services of some of the top couturiers in France to help design and craft the range.
Designers including Franois Tamarin, Bruno Legeron, and Jean-Pierre Ollier worked on the one-off pieces.
And in a stunning coup de grace, Karl Lagerfeld was persuaded to join the project, agreeing to photograph Zahia Dehar modelling the collection.
She's very French courtesan, like Liane de Pougy or the Belle Otro,' Lagerfeld said of Zahir
Lagerfeld described the photos he took – which are to be handed out as a press kit at today's show – as 'very, very funny, like Vargas pinups. It was fun to do her.'
According to Lagerfeld, Zahia is to be celebrated in the manner of traditional French escorts.
'She is very French courtesan, like Liane de Pougy or the Belle Otro,' he said, although he did note: 'I have nothing to do with her collection.'
On her Twitter page @ZahiaOfficiel Dehar tweeted her joy at working with the esteemed Karl Lagerfeld, saying: 'Etre photographie par Karl Lagerfeld est comme un rve qui devient ralit…' (Being photographed by Karl Lagerfeld is like a dream come true).
The world's media has taken note too. Not only was Zahia photographed for V and Italian Vanity Fair, but mention of her lingerie line was made in the respected fashion publication WWD.
When it comes to her former life as a call girl, Zahia is discreet, maintaining she is fond of the men who faced jail for allegedly paying for her escort services, and defending them as 'gentlemen'.
'I loved them all', she says, adding that she was 'shocked' that the players had faced up to three years in prison for the alleged crime.
She said that Ribery, Benzema and Govou had all treated her ‘with utter respect’ and should be left alone.