What Essentiel Antwerp Wears: Karina

Style What Essentiel Antwerp Wears: Karina

25 avril 2020

What Essentiel Antwerp Wears

Karina Zharmu


If you follow us on Instagram, you already know that the Essentiel Antwerp offices are dipped in color. From the pink walls in our showroom to the fashion choices our staff makes.

To give you a better idea of #LifeAtEssentielAntwerp and the people that live it, we decided to give you a monthly look into the different jobs, fashion styles, and personalities that walk around those pink walls.


Karina Zharmu is our PR coordinator and started working at Essentiel Antwerp as a model. She gave us an interview about her journey from modeling to a more conventional job and details about her style and outfit choices.




How did you start at Essentiel Antwerp?

I got in touch with Essentiel Antwerp via modeling. After doing some presentations and agents meetings they asked me to become Essentiel Antwerp’s permanent showroom model. But I reached a point in my life/career where I wanted to have a job where I could grow and learn thanks to my own efforts, not just looks. Being a model, you don’t have that much control, in the end you either fit the look or you don’t.

For that reason, I decided to have a talk with Inge, because I was very excited about the opportunity, but I wanted something more, something different. Inge understood me because she used to be a model too and luckily for me, Charles (my colleague) needed help to build the PR section further. I’m still very grateful that Inge was willing to listen to what I had to say. Not everyone would understand what it means coming from a modeling background and wanting to go in another direction.

I studied PR and Communications but never with the goal to actually end up in PR. At the same time, I have a good network of journalists, stylists, … thanks to my modeling career. So that was also definitely helpful for my job at Essentiel Antwerp. I really was at the right place, at the right time! After that it all went fast, I did my interview, I got hired and a new chapter began for me. It all came together very naturally in the end.


Models usually dress more edgy, do you remember what you were wearing for your job interview?

Since this was a job interview, I wore something relaxed to feel comfortable and confident. It was a beautiful, hot summer day so I was dressed lightly but decent; black loose pants with a white floral satin top. Nothing too edgy but I felt “no need to overdo it” (laughs). In the end I already felt comfortable at Essentiel Antwerp, so I just came as myself.


What’s your job at Essentiel Antwerp?

I coordinate the PR department, together with my colleague Charles. Next to our Belgian PR that we operate internally, we also work closely with international PR agencies. For the Belgian market, we develop and maintain our relationship with Belgian press, stylists, and all other people of interest.

Seeing we don’t have the same network outside of Belgium, we rely on our international PR agencies and provide them with the right information to ensure our brand awareness and visibility in the best way possible in their respective markets. This goes from sending them all the tools they need, such as press kits and samples, to name a few. Giving them strategic input and setting seasonal targets, looking at their media landscape but also which kind of profiles we’d like to work with is a very important part of the job.

PR comes basically down to maintaining a good relationship with all the relevant external stakeholders of Essentiel Antwerp, to benefit the brand’s image and relationships.


What’s the best part of your job?

The diversity of my job is something I’m very happy about. What I love is that there is always room to learn, I think that’s very important. Aside from that, Essentiel Antwerp does not have a typical corporate atmosphere. My colleagues are amazing, and we are all respectful towards one another. To me it’s super important that you can be yourself at work. Have fun when there’s the time for it, and obviously be serious when needed.

In the end you spend more time with your colleagues, than with your own family so better be in the right place. I also like the social part, being in touch with a lot of different people going from PR’s, to editors, stylists, you name it.


What’s a typical workday like for you?

I can’t start my day without eating something & having a coffee or 2 (laughs). I need my time in the morning and start my day by checking my mails and making a to-do list. This helps me stay organized and keep an overview of everything to handle that day.

To be flexible is key at Essentiel Antwerp. Of course, every day there are emails to be answered or calls to be made. But if they need a model in the showroom, I go and model too. I’m also in charge of the music in stores now, which I’m excited about because music is a big passion of mine. Then there are also the celebrities / stylists that come over to lend out clothes from the press showroom. The only thing that is the same every day is the office and my colleagues.


You are a model and now you’re working for a fashion brand. Does that affect your work style?

I obviously picked up a lot of things while I was modeling and by seeing our clothes at Essentiel Antwerp. But I never buy something because it’s a trend. I only buy things that they appeal to me for a certain reason. So apart from the business I’m in, I think the most important criteria for me is whether it triggers something in me or not.

I do have to say that I started wearing more color since I started at Essentiel Antwerp. You could say that’s almost inevitable, no? (laughs) It is definitely true that color can give you that extra sparkle inside and out. Before (and still sometimes) I was an all-black kind of girl.




Do you have a typical office style?

Not per se but as everybody I have some pieces that are my go-to pieces when I don’t have that much inspiration. That would be my black blazer and I also love turtlenecks. Shoe wise I often choose for sneakers or comfy boots. There are also days where I feel like something extra and then I opt for heels. Honestly, it all depends on how much time I have in the morning (read: sometimes I like to snooze) and how I feel like at that moment. It goes together with who I’m seeing that day, the places I might be going to or the tasks that are waiting for me.


So, on a good day without snoozing, what influences your outfit?

The weather for sure. For example, if it rains, I’d rather go for my Dr. Martens boots. I also check if I have important meetings that day or when I’m spending more time in the showroom, I wear flats. For press presentations / events I make sure to wear my favorite Essentiel Antwerp outfit, because as a PR I represent the brand, of course.


Some people like to start from the shoes and work their way up to make an outfit. How do you choose your outfit?

I know people do that but then again which jacket or which pants go with those shoes? I think it’s more that I have a certain piece in mind that I feel like wearing and I start from there. That might go from a certain top, to some specific pants or shoes yes :))


Are you someone that changes her outfit more than once in the morning?

I’ve gotten better with time! But it happened to me recently, I ordered some pants online and in my head, it went well with a pair of shoes I have. I put the outfit quickly together in the morning and went to the big mirror in my living room and it looked like a joke (laughs), so I had to change my outfit… I think the key for good outfits are long-lasting, quality items. It doesn’t mean therefore always more expensive items; they might just as well come from a thrift-store. But I do have a couple of beautiful designer pieces that add that extra touch. Then if you combine those items with ‘cheaper’ or more basic items you can play around and wear them for a long time.


With a history of modelling I’m sure you wore a lot of special outfits. What’s the most memorable outfit you ever wore?

The master collection of my good friend Kjell De Meersman is something I won’t forget anytime soon. He studied fashion at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp and made a wonderful collection for his Master. All tailor made since I was his fitting model for the entire collection. There was a lot of latex and the items were simply gorgeous, it felt like I had a second skin. I’d never worn custom-made latex suits before, so that was definitely memorable.


What clothing item would you save from a burning house?

My coat and boots from Dries Van Noten.


How would you describe your personal style?

Comfortable but neat. Sometimes I dress boyish, sometimes I dress girly. My style depends on my mood. I find it hard to describe “my style” because I embrace a lot of styles and I like playing around with them. Also, when I see things that aren’t particularly my style, I can still appreciate it. In the end fashion remains a great way of expressing yourself, whatever it is that you want to express.




Items worn by Karina


Brown trench coat

Denim dress

White cotton blouse


FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM @essentielantwerp