How Bella Hadid Owned Paris Fashion Week, and Blew Up TikTok on the Side

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty
Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty
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Were it not for the bombastic, problematic interventions of Kanye West, the rapper and fashion mogul whose “White Lives Matter” YZY shirts went over like a bucket of cold vomit at Paris Fashion Week on Monday, the biggest story coming out of the barrage of shows would be the domination of Bella Hadid.

Hadid arguably was the fashion moment of the week: At Coperni, she stepped onto the runway nearly nude; attendants spray-painted a substance called Fabrican onto her body before shaping it into a white dress. The internet delighted in the stunt, while more seasoned critics labeled the moment a “fashion gimmick.”

Gigi Hadid Calls Kanye West ‘Bully and a Joke’ After Vogue Editor Instagram Attack

Indeed, West made a direct attempt to undermine Hadid over the dress. On Wednesday he edited a picture of her on Instagram so that her torso also read White Lives Matter, a slogan that Hadid’s sister Gigi took deep issue with this week. “You’re a bully and a joke,” Gigi wrote to West after he attacked a Vogue editor who dared to criticize his show.

Bella Hadid walked in 11 shows in 9 days in Paris: Balenciaga, Vivienne Westwood, Miu Miu, Stella McCartney, Thom Browne, Sacai, Courrèges, Coperni, Victoria Beckham, Isabel Marant, and Givenchy.

“I simply and truly loved working with her,” Thom Browne told The Daily Beast on Thursday. “Her respect for the entire process is beautiful… her appreciation of everything that goes on behind the scenes to create the magic is beautiful... She is a true professional… a once-in-a-generation talent… She transcends fashion in how she inhabits what she is wearing and creates a world of her own… You look at her and want to inhabit this world… and, most importantly, she is such a nice person.”

Paris marked the culmination of Hadid’s stacked fall season, during which she also walked in five shows in New York, three in Milan, and one in London. Throughout these appearances, Hadid has managed to wrest an impactful social media moment out of nearly every single show via her Instagram account, with a few bona-fide viral smashes, like the spray-on dress.

Hadid was also a key player in the Balenciaga mud-pit show, a major hit for creative director Demna Gvasalia that featured models decked out in studded leather and cozy sweats stalking around the filthy runway. Some were carrying purses made out of empty potato chip bags, while Hadid took her turn in a simple hoodie, short shorts, fake eyebrow piercings, and a teddy bear handbag.

<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Bella Hadid is dressed by spraying Fabrican Spray-on fabric during the Coperni Spring-Summer 2023 fashion show in Paris on Sept. 30.</p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Julien De Rosa/AFP via Getty</div>

Bella Hadid is dressed by spraying Fabrican Spray-on fabric during the Coperni Spring-Summer 2023 fashion show in Paris on Sept. 30.

Julien De Rosa/AFP via Getty

Hadid is also the inspiration behind several TikTok trends. In the latest, her fans use audio of her saying “So.... my... name, my name is Bella Hadid” over videos of themselves engaging in various glamorous activities such as choosing vinaigrette over ranch dressing for their salads or getting lip injections instead of buying groceries.

In another recent trend, drawing inspiration from paparazzi footage of Hadid nonchalantly pumping her own gas with her abs exposed, TikTok users uploaded clips of themselves wandering around in crop tops looking blithe. As of this week, the #bellahadid TikTok tag has 9.8 billion views.

Besides her obvious beauty and enviable body, the qualities that make Hadid such a runway superstar are hard to define, but her chameleonic ability to completely inhabit the ideal of whichever designer’s vision she happens to be catering to is a talent that doesn’t get nearly enough credit.

The greatest models in fashion history are performers, not human clothes hangers: Naomi Campbell’s iconic walk ensured that she brought every inch of herself to each show, even if the Campbell of it all threatened to outshine the clothes at times. The Kate Moss combination of disaffected ambivalence (very ’90s) and completely innocent freshness is what makes her so mysterious to this day.

<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Bella Hadid walks the runway during the Victoria Beckham Ready to Wear Spring Summer 2023 show as part of the Paris Fashion Week.</p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Victor Virgile/Gamma-Rapho via Getty</div>

Bella Hadid walks the runway during the Victoria Beckham Ready to Wear Spring Summer 2023 show as part of the Paris Fashion Week.

Victor Virgile/Gamma-Rapho via Getty

Hadid is something closer to a method actor.

At Victoria Beckham, Hadid was aloof and slinky in long black opera gloves and an olive green shift. At Vivienne Westwood, Hadid’s gaze at the crowd was sharply aware and almost confrontational, an attitude that matched the stark white boxing gloves she wore. While being spray painted, Hadid was the old-school idea of an artist’s muse: naked, mute, elegant, and pliable.

“I think she’s just effortless, and she’s not contrived,” Amanda Sanders, the lead stylist for New York Image Consultant, told The Daily Beast when asked to define Hadid’s appeal. “I think people are also drawn towards the mystique around Real Housewives and the fact that she grew up so privileged.”

Bella and Gigi Hadid were first introduced to the world as the teenage daughters of Yolanda Hadid, star of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Hadid’s father, Mohamed Hadid, is a controversial luxury real estate developer.

<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Bella Hadid walks the runway during the Sacai Womenswear Spring/Summer 2023 show as part of Paris Fashion Week.</p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Peter White/Getty</div>

Bella Hadid walks the runway during the Sacai Womenswear Spring/Summer 2023 show as part of Paris Fashion Week.

Peter White/Getty

“With models, just because that’s their job doesn’t mean they’re good at their job,” Sanders added. Hadid isn’t just beautiful, but extremely practiced at her craft. “She exudes simplicity and elegance, and she looks so confident and comfortable. It’s a guilty pleasure watching her. I’ve seen her a million times, and it almost feels voyeuristic.”

What makes Hadid’s fierce runway performances so interesting is the clear contrast to Hadid’s actual personality, as displayed on Instagram: She’s sweet, bubbly and endlessly enthusiastic about her collaborators. She’s also just as willing to speak out about atrocities in Iran as she is to wax poetic about her relationship with the late Virgil Abloh.

Hadid and her sister Gigi, who are Palestinian, have also caught flak in the past for sharing Instagram posts calling Israel a land settled by colonizers and not a country; this led to the models being accused of spreading antisemitism.

Still, whether inspiring awe or drawing ire, her week in Paris shows that Hadid is becoming more at ease with forging an identity as a public figure, on and off the runway.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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