“I was born 31 years ago. I physically do not fit any model standard,” said experimental singer-songwriter and producer Sevdaliza (born Sevda Alizadeh) after making her modeling debut yesterday on the Y/Project runway. The artist, who moved to the Netherlands from her native Tehran under refugee status when she was just 5 years old, went on to play basketball for the Dutch youth national team before committing herself to music full-time. She released her debut album, Ison, in 2017 with a fluid, almost painterly-like visual sound, which lent itself well to her trip-hop-indebted songs.
A former basketball player walking a runway might not exactly fit outdated ideal model standards, as Sevdaliza admits, but her singular sense of style does seem like a natural extension of Y/Project’s equal parts conceptual and playful ethos. In her everyday life, the Rotterdam-based singer retains many of the sartorial signatures of her sporty past through her comfortable and practical workout attire. Onstage, she leans toward more androgynous, dramatic silhouettes, with boxy white suits or flowing, all-encompassing dresses.
Per its website, Y/Project prides itself on emphasizing “individuality and independence,” which precisely aligns with Sevdaliza’s spectral music and well-honed aesthetic. “This for me is the meaning of an era where character, authenticity, and perseverance strive,” she said of her unlikely runway appearance. “I was invited by the creative director, [Glenn Martens], without a single restriction. I was offered a stage to share my womanhood, my power, to inspire young kids. I am privileged.”