A model sister: the Bella Hadid interview

In a regional exclusive, model du jour Bella Hadid talks to The National about fashion, family stardom and becoming the face of Bulgari.

At just 20, Bella Hadid, pictured here for Bulgari, is a supermodel on the ascent across runways around the world, just like her big sister Gigi Hadid. Courtesy Bulgari.
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From New York to Milan to Paris, Bella Hadid has held the fashion capitals in her sway.

The 20-year-old model du jour has been the star attraction on the catwalk and at headline events this past month. She’s the face of Bulgari accessories this season; is an ambassador for Christian Dior cosmetics and in Paris launched a design collaboration with edgy Los Angeles-based brand Chrome Hearts.

With her sleek black hair, high cheekbones and cats' eyes, Bella is more Sphinx-like compared with the LA surfer girl look of her older sister Gigi, who recently photographed Zayn Malik for Versace's Versus campaign and caused a bit of a stir with her cover on the first issue of Vogue Arabia, in which she wore a partial veil.

Between them, the siblings share 41 million followers on Instagram, which gives the pair a lot of star power. Yet they are the nicest new “supers” you could meet backstage or on a shoot.

Schooled by their mother, Yolanda, a former model and reality star of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Bella is as sweet and polite as her sister.

When we meet in Milan, the morning after Bulgari unveils her as their new face at a glitzy dinner party, Bella says how “honoured and excited” she is to be asked by such an “iconic name”.

The previous night, Bella showed off the luxury jewellery brand’s Serpente necklace of almost 81 carats worth of diamonds, worn back to front with her slithery silver strass dress by Alexandre Vauthier. She arrives in a more understated pinstripe asymmetric top and trousers by Area and Zanotti strappy sandals.

“It is hard to say if I bring anything to Bulgari other than my youth, and with social media to a certain extent I can bring more viewers to the brand,” she says.

“Perhaps having someone young on the team is cool.”

She explains how important social media is to her generation as a way of establishing careers, “but now I am working a lot I can take a step back as it is overwhelming sometimes. I have to find a certain balance: I like to keep it as work-based as possible, but have to be sensitive to the people following me who want me to post some personal things.”

Nevertheless, as Tommy Hilfiger pointed out after his recent show in Los Angeles, which included a capsule collection co-designed with Gigi, the sisters, together with Joan Smalls, have the power, glamour and charisma to persuade the public to buy clothes right off the catwalk.

The pieces that sell out are “whatever Gigi wears, and Bella and Joan”. It’s an appealing proposal for any brand.

Clearly the sisters are very close, and it’s not just about fashion and looks. They walked together in protest at United States president Donald Trump’s anti-immigration policies in January.

To date, this has been Bella’s busiest catwalk season. After a hectic New York schedule, she has shared the runway in Milan with Gigi at Fendi, Versace, Alberta Ferretti and Moschino.

The day after our meeting, the pair jetted to Paris where they enjoyed some R&R together at Disneyland, according to their Instagram posts, before hitting the catwalks of the fashion capital. Gigi, Bella and their brother Anwar grew up in Malibu, California.

Their mother and father, Mohamed Hadid, a real estate developer from Jordan with Palestinian lineage, divorced in 2000, but have an amicable relationship in raising their three children.

Yolanda and the daughters are keen equestrians, but the talented Bella has put her riding ambitions aside for the moment since she and her mother contracted Lyme disease.

However, she hopes to start riding again in a couple of years and to buy a big barn upstate to keep horses.

Meanwhile, she keeps her condition under control with daily shots, vitamins and antibiotics. She admits: “But it takes its toll.”

Understandably Gigi, who has a couple of years’ head start in modelling, is very protective of her younger sister.

“Gigi and I were talking about it earlier and if I’m not feeling well I can go and see her in hair and make-up (backstage) and if I need advice I can talk to her whenever I want,” says Bella.

“It is nice to have a support system with me, especially being in Milan, as I am by myself a lot. This is the first time we are here together and although we have separate rooms next to each other we somehow always have sleepovers.”