Bella Khoshaba is from an Assyrian family. Her parents were not enthusiastic about a degree in fashion at first, but nonetheless have supported her throughout her career.
Her father, who moved to the United States from Iraq, was especially opposed to her pursuing a career in fashion, which is not valued in his home country. Instead, he pushed her toward studying medicine or law.
But Khoshaba, who calls herself a rebel, refused to give up on her dream. She even dyed her long hair a bright shade of pink – a step not taken by most conservative residents of Middle Eastern descent.
Khoshaba, a junior at Columbia College Chicago majoring in fashion business and minoring in journalism, is an intern at Studio H, a company in River West that sells clothing to boutiques. She works in the selling department.
“Everyone knew I was into fashion before I even knew it,” Khoshaba said.
She said she has been interested in fashion from a young age. And while everyone was playing with toys, Khoshaba’s friends and family noticed she was playing with clothes.
“I never asked for Barbies,” she said. “I wanted a Louis Vuitton when I was about 8 or 9 years old.”
A designer she looks up to is Riccardo Tisci. Tisci’s unique and edgy designs are what draws Khoshaba. Her favorite fashion show featured Tisci on a basketball court. His models walked on the basketball court to showcase his street wear collection.
Khoshaba said she loves dressing outside of the normal comfort zone.
On a recent day, she wore an outfit emblazoned with the face of singer Kanye West, which drew criticism from people who saw it. That was the desired effect, she said, because she believes fashion should be controversial.
“She likes to offend people with her style. She doesn’t do it for attention, but so people can see fashion from another angle,” said Ramina Sarkis, a friend of Khoshaba.
Khoshaba hopes to one day work as a trend analyst for a fashion company. She would like to travel all over the world in search of trends. She said she believes the job would be perfect for her because it involves fashion and traveling – two things she loves.
She would also like to start her own fashion line consisting of street wear.
“Fashion has always been with Bella ever since I could remember,” said Eryana Shamuel, Khoshaba’s friend. “She’s my go-to person when it comes to choosing an outfit.”
While her parents were initially hesitant about her fashion career choice, Khoshaba said they’re beginning to accept her decision to pursue a fashion career, and her mother is very supportive.