Antwerp Stylist Farah El Bastani: “I want to show fashion the way I see society: very colorful”

CategoriesFashion
Tagscommunity, style
  • this is antwerp

Meet Farah El Bastani: pink nails, a yellow coat, red lipstick and a maxi dress in leopard print. This 30-year old stylist from Antwerp with Moroccan roots dresses as she is: happy, colorful and exuberant. “If you wear something with confidence and flair, it can’t be anything but cool.”

Farah is here to stay. She has styled famous Belgian figures such as former Eurovision Song candidate Blanche, popstars Angèle and Emma Bale, she did shoots for Belgian newspaper De Standaard, and Antwerp based fashion museum MoMu. “It wasn’t easy to become a stylist,” she says. “There already was a select group of stylists, so I had to fight for my place. But I had passion and ambition, and I knew I could make it with that.”

Different perspective

“I never saw my roots as a stumbling block,” Farah says. “I know I’m foreign. For some, that’s a problem, but I am who I am. My vision is different than that of people without a migration background. That’s something positive to me.” Yet, the fashion world remains too monotonous. “It took so long before a black model walked the runaway. In my opinion, fashion brands use models of color as a statement. They want customers to see they’re into diversity, but diversity is more than dark women alone. It’s someone with a lazy eye, a plus-size or many tattoos. Sometimes I think diversity is just a trend. It’s been a trend in large fashion labels to make their models wear head scarfs. For how long, I wonder. Two seasons?”

Outside the box

To Farah, diversity isn’t a trend but a must. “I want to show a diverse image of fashion by how I see society. And that’s very colorful. I want to show a diverse tableau. Boys, girls, gay and trans, I use all types of people.” White models still dominate our western media and fashion industry. Farah considers it her task to change that. “Sometimes, customers want a campaign in which they involuntary cast only white people. In such cases, I try to push diversity. The school doesn’t teach us a lot about diversity either, while it should start there. Some people grew up in a village where only white people live. I’m from such a village myself, so I can know. When you’re raised in such villages it doesn’t occur to you later that people of color should be on a group picture as well.”

Uniformity

“Did school stimulate you to have a unique clothing style?” Farah responds firmly. “Identity was barely talked about. It was discussed once in human sciences, but that was about it. And that’s a problem.” What about the fashion industry? Does it succeed where education fails? “Absolutely not,” Farah replies. “Brands encourage us to wear the same because they want to sell hot items. We all need that dress from Zara or that bag from Mango. Stores propose how to wear that particular dress, the right people wear it, and all of a sudden, everyone wants that look. Is the latest fashion all nude, then everyone wears beige like the Kardashians. That’s easy. If everyone were to have their own style, people would actually think about their clothing and buy more vintage, for instance. The fashion industry doesn’t want that.”

What you see is what you get

This fashion queen doesn’t contribute to that monotony. Farah’s got her eye on authenticity and radiance. “When you look at my clothes, you see me. I’m a very exuberant person. Always positive and colorful. You’ll never see me in black, except on an off day.” Farah’s secret? Self-confidence. “It doesn’t matter who wears it, as long as you wear it well,” she says shrugging. “You, as a person, should wear a piece of clothing, not the other way around.” She admits it isn’t always easy to dress uniquely. “People who dare to be themselves in their clothing, have to be strong. Because often, those people get bullied. I never had a role model when it comes to that. When I was younger, there weren’t any Belgian girls with a migration background I could look up to. I hope to be the role model I missed for other foreign girls today.”

Credits

Text by Roxanne Wellens

Pics via Farah El Bastani

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