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GOSSIP GIRL: Call it the fashion world’s guilty little secret. On the way to Karl Lagerfeld’s dinner on Wednesday marking the launch of his masstige line, more than one fashion editor stopped by the launch of Zahia Dehar’s couture lingerie line. The curvy 19-year-old, who was thrust into the limelight by a tabloid scandal involving top French footballers, has captured the imagination of the Paris cultural elite: Lagerfeld shot the visuals for the show’s press kit, and gallerist Pierre Passebon will exhibit artworks created by and featuring Dehar, including a metallic cast of her infamous Z-shaped torso.

Still, the front-row pack giggled uneasily every time a familiar face walked in. “What are you doing here?” one editor asked production wizard Alexandre de Betak. “I was curious,” he shrugged. Puzzled guests opened the black boxes left on their seats to discover a miniature pink chocolate rendition of Dehar’s assets nestled in black tissue paper. Life-size versions, rendered in metallic pink, were dotted through the pitch-dark space. The budding designer has the financial backing of First Mark Investments, a Hong Kong-based fund, and tapped the same craftspeople as leading couture houses to produce her collection, which in due course will inspire a more affordable lingerie line.

This story first appeared in the January 27, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

But the money poured into the show could not disguise her lack of experience. Models stood on revolving podiums in designs ranging from a black hourglass corset festooned with pink petals to a bodysuit consisting of little more than a giant pink satin bow and matching pasties. With its Manga aesthetic, the collection navigated an uncomfortable line between infantile and erotic. A scantily clad Dehar emerged for the finale, flashing come-hither looks as pink petals showered down from above.

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