Model-turned-actress Farida Khelfa’s longstanding admiration and affection for Jean Paul Gaultier spurred her to direct for the first time. Her documentary on the designer is due to air here tonight.

“From his first show, it was obvious he was a great couturier,” said the tall, dark-hair beauty, whose 52-minute program will be shown on France 5 at 8:35 p.m. local time.

Called “Jean Paul Gaultier ou les codes bouleversés” (Jean Paul Gaultier or the shattered codes, in English), it spans Gaultier’s 30-year career. The documentary opens with his last Hermès ready-to-wear show in October 2010 and ends with Gaultier taking a bow on the same runway. Khelfa herself made her way down that Hermès catwalk.

Born in Lyon, France, of Algerian parents and brought up in the city’s working-class suburbs of Minguettes, Khelfa is best known as Azzedine Alaïa’s muse. She was also among the first models of ethnic origin in the Eighties, when she first walked for Gaultier.

For a time, Khelfa was Gaultier’s couture director. But for the past few years, she has dedicated herself to the silver screen, scoring acting roles in movies such as Souad El-Bouati’s drama ‘Française’ from 2008 and Gabriel Julien-Laferrière’s comedy and box-office hit “Neuilly sa mere” from 2009. Khelfa is currently wrapping up the second part of Yamina Benguigui’s latest TV movie “Aïsha.”

Khelfa has long been fascinated by Gaultier. “He is rare and mysterious,” she says, explaining she wanted to show the designer¹s discreet and private side, not just the outgoing man everyone seems to know.

Of course, Gaultier’s bubbly nature surfaces in the documentary, which also includes striking images of his first collections. Khelfa says she made a point to film him with women ­ Madonna, Beth Ditto and Dita Von Teese­ because “he really likes women.”

There are moving moments in the documentary, too. Khelfa invited her best friend Carla Bruni-Sarkozy — also a buddy of Gaultier — to conduct an interview. He discussed with her his commitment to the fight against AIDS,  which began after he lost his lover and business partner Francis Menuge in 1990 to the disease.

“My favorite piece of clothing is the condom, because it protects from the virus,” he tells Bruni-Sarkozy.

Khelfa is keen to feature another designer in a documentary sometime soon and she will direct a movie shortly.

“I learned everything on the spot,” says Khelfa. “And I just loved it.”

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