UN Women | Natalina Talks Fashion and Identity

“Unfortunately far too much emphasis is placed on how an "attractive" woman should look and how an "attractive" man should look, further creating binaries that divide genders and don't provide freedom of expression.”

Natalina Isabelle von Schappach

Photographer: Aaron Kho 

Web:  ShootingWithMyHeart

Model: Natalina Isabelle Von Schappach

Interviewed by: Maisha Kabir


Maisha: Define your style.

Natalina: I would define my style as classic with a modern New York twist

Maisha: Biggest fashion inspiration?

Natalina: Katharine Hepburn–I love menswear meets New York mod.

Maisha: If you were to trade closets with one person, who would it be and why?

Natalina: It would have to be Emma Watson. Not only is her style fantastic, but she takes great care into wearing eco friendly clothing, much of which supports local industry and women.

Maisha: What’s a favorite current trend of yours?

Natalina: I am loving metal detailing. I like adding a pinch of edge to my outfits–nothing bold, but a subtle touch of metal can give such a strong statement.

Maisha: What is something that will never make way to your closet?

Natalina: Flats actually. They don't make it into my closet. I think I own one pair! I actually find heels far more comfortable. I think it might have something to do with dancing en pointe for ballet for so many years!

Maisha: What’s your favorite fashion piece in possession?

Natalina: My favorite piece would be a simple black Dolce and Gabbana dress I own. It is not the most statement of pieces, but it holds a special place in my heart. It was the dress I wore to my very first Met Opera, which is now such an important part of my life. I will never forget experiencing the wonder that is the Met for the first time, wearing that dress.


Maisha: You’re very involved with UN Women. Tell us a little bit about that, and what you do?

Natalina: I would love to talk about UN Women! It is the organization that I am most passionate about and is at the core of all the projects that I am involved in. My involvement with UN Women began with an internship. I was chosen as the Global Youth Engagement Intern at UN Women for the HeForShe campaign in the Fall of 2015 and had the incredible opportunity of working closely with the HeForShe team including HeForShe founder Elizabeth Nyamayaro and Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka along with my mentor and internship supervisor Aamina Awan to create opportunities and projects to engage youth, artists and businesses in the gender equality campaign.

After my internship ended, I continued my involvement with UN Women, becoming Executive Producer of the In Support of HeForShe film that UN Women premiered at the HeForShe Turns Two Gala at MoMa with Emma Watson, Trevor Noah, Secretary General of the UN Ban Ki-moon and Justin Trudeau among many others. Attending the gala and having the opportunity to see my film premier in front of a large and diverse audience with the knowledge that it was directly helping to facilitate conversations about gender equality continues to be a highlight of my college career. Please check out the film here: In Support of HeForShe Film.

Maisha: Do you think you’re able to tie in fashion with how you identity yourself as a woman?

Natalina: I think that the fashion industry is one of the most important industries to engage in when talking about gender equality. Unfortunately far too much emphasis is placed on how an "attractive" woman should look and how an "attractive" man should look, further creating binaries that divide genders and don't provide freedom of expression. That being said, I think that the fashion industry has taken key steps in recent years to try to weaken those standards and open up the spectrum to include people of all genders, body types and identities.

I think there is great potential within such a commanding and prominent industry to contribute to breaking down barriers and promoting expression that is not limited to preconceived notions of gender. I am excited to see how companies such as Calvin Klein, that is now a Title Sponsor of the HeForShe Initiative, will make progress in the fashion industry especially with such powerful global influence.

Maisha: Do you have any upcoming projects you’re looking forward to?

Natalina: There actually is a project that I am very excited about! I am a board member on the NGO TajRupt (https://m.facebook.com/tajrupt/), which is an organization that seeks to improve education, tackle corruption, and provide sustainable energy for the country of Tajikistan in Central Asia. TajRupt is focusing on providing educational opportunities for talented youth in Tajikistan and emphasizes the importance of providing academics for boys and girls alike. I am excited about potential collaboration with the HeForShe campaign and UN Women and cannot wait to see where this project takes us!

If you are interested in being involved with the HeForShe campaign or with TajRupt, do not hesitate to reach out to Natalina at [email protected] or by Facebook messenger.