How Gigi and Bella Hadid became the supermodels of their generation

From reality TV beginnings to becoming some of the world's highest-paid models, here's how the Hadid sisters took over the fashion world

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If it weren't already established, last month solidified it: the Hadid sisters have taken over the fashion world. But how, exactly, did Gigi and Bella become the biggest supermodels of their generation? Let’s dive in.

Model childhood

Modelling has always been in the Hadid sisters’ genes — their mother is Dutch-American former model Yolanda Hadid.

Jelena Noura "Gigi", 27, started her modelling career at the age of 2, when she was discovered by Paul Marciano, co-founder of Guess. Throughout her childhood, she starred in several campaigns for Baby Guess, before taking a hiatus from modelling for school.

She returned to modelling in 2013, signing with international agency IMG Models. She made her runway debut the next year, walking for Desigual.

Bella, 25, found her way into modelling a little later, at the age of 16. She was an accomplished equestrian throughout her teenage years, with dreams of taking part in the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Her first modelling job was a commercial project for Flynn Skye in 2012.

Reality TV beginnings

The Hadid sisters had also become known for life away from catalogues and runways from a young age, thanks to their mother’s role on popular reality television series The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

The show often showed snippets of the sisters’ home lives and the start of their modelling careers, helped along by their parents (their father is Palestinian-Jordanian property tycoon Mohamed Hadid). The pair appeared in seasons three to six, although Gigi has spoken in the past of her efforts to avoid appearing on the show.

“That wasn't my life or a part of my growing up. My mom wasn't on TV until I was a senior in high school, so I was just on my way out of the house," she said in an interview with InStyle.

"But it was weird for me. I would come home from school and there would be production trucks outside. I would scale the staircase to my room so I wouldn't have to go say hi to my mom in the kitchen."

Scroll through the gallery below for Gigi Hadid's style evolution

Bella, however, has spoken of the experience in a different manner.

"Being on the show wasn't me trying to get famous," she told Elle of her cameos. "It was just trying to make my mom happy."

The show helped to cement their positions among Los Angeles' new generation of “it girls”, alongside fellow A-list offspring including Kendall Jenner, Hailey Bieber and Miley Cyrus.

It wasn't long before the sisters' ever-growing number of Instagram followers helped fashion brands to see their reach, and their modelling careers started to grow at the same break-neck speed.

Gigi credits Carine Roitfeld for giving her her “big break” in 2014, when she put her on the cover of CR Fashion Book. Soon after, she landed her first Tom Ford campaign and became a regular fixture at New York Fashion Week.

Bella made her New York Fashion Week debut in the autumn/winter season of 2014, and shortly afterwards booked her first solo fashion cover on the December issue of Jalouse.

Fashion’s elite

Fast-forward eight years, and it’s hard to pick up a magazine or watch a runway show that one of the sisters does not feature in. Gigi has 37 Vogue covers alone under her belt, while Bella has 27, appeared on her first solo US Vogue cover in April.

The sisters are among the highest-paid models of 2022, with Gigi earning an estimated $20 million, and Bella right behind her with $19m, according to Forbes.

Between them, they have walked for almost every major fashion house in existence, and have fronted several beauty campaigns.

Viral moments

Bella was central to perhaps one of the most-talked-about moments in fashion this year, closing the Coperni show at Paris Fashion Week.

Members of team Coperni sprayed a dress onto her using a patented spray-on fabric developed by London-based company Fabrican. Nine minutes later, Hadid was sporting a very real, white off-the-shoulder pencil dress, which looked as if it could have been cut from silk.

She also sported a double Mohawk for Thom Browne in Paris, was a purple bride for Versace in Milan, and enjoyed a sisterly moment alongside Gigi at the Victoria Beckham show in Paris.

Gigi also made several headlines this fashion month, not least for shutting down Kanye West over his comments to Vogue editor Gabriella Karefa-Johnson. Hadid called the rapper a bully for his public criticism of the writer, after she critiqued his Paris Fashion Week show.

Gigi also featured on the runways of Stella McCartney, Chloe, Isabel Marant and Givenchy in Paris.

One has to wonder what's next from here.

Updated: June 23, 2023, 3:01 PM