Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid and the ‘Real Model’ Debate That Won’t Die

Yahoo Style
Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner
Do these look like real models to you? (Photo: Getty Images)

Are Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner real models? It’s the fashion industry argument that never ends — it just goes on and on, my friends — and Victoria’s Secret Angel Adriana Lima is the latest to weigh in with a hearty “yes.”

“I have worked with Kendall on runways before when we were in Europe, like Versace and also with Victoria’s Secret,” Lima told E! News. “Kendall is very sweet and very nice, and it’s always pleasant to work with someone like that.” And to those who may think Jenner is coasting by on notoriety alone? “You know, she works as hard as we do, so I give her credit for all the effort,” Lima said.

With a plethora of high-profile runway shows (hey there, Chanel), prestigious ad campaigns (oh hello, Versace, La Perla and Calvin Klein) and design collaborations among them (looking at you, Tommy Hilfiger and Stuart Weitzman), one would think the juggernaut that is Kengi’s spot atop the contemporary modeling industry would be inarguable. But despite the pair’s rapid ascension to the top of Forbes’ list of highest-paid supermodels, all is not so cut and dry, according to their prominent peers of years past.

Fashion industry bible Vogue first declared Jenner and Hadid to be supermodels  in December 2015, calling theman inescapable part of the fashion conversation.” However, Rebecca Romijn wasn’t having it and told Entertainment Tonight that “legitimate fashion people” were frustrated by the success of the pair, which she attributed to social media alone.

“No one has proven yet that numbers of followers translates to revenue,” Romijn said in the interview. “So it is frustrating. I know a lot of people — legitimate fashion people — can’t stand it. Hate it that these, you know, social media stars are now the supermodels in fashion … They are not true supermodels.”

Romijn later took to Twitter to clarify, saying she “never talked smack” about the pair, but the damage had been done.

While Jenner and Hadid stayed quiet at the time, Hadid’s mom, Yolanda Foster, sent out a pair of tweets defending them.

Later, fellow models Cindy Crawford and Miranda Kerr both also chimed in to defend Jenner and Hadid. “I’m so jealous, because I feel they have this direct way to communicate with their audience that my generation didn’t have,” Crawford said while walking the red carpet at this year’s Met Gala, where she made a point to pose alongside Jenner for photographers. Kerr told the New York Daily News that Romijn’s comments about the duo were “not very nice. They work hard just like everyone else.”

Then original supermodel Stephanie Seymour joined the fray, telling Vanity Fair that Jenner and Hadid are “completely different than we were … Supermodels are sort of the thing of the past. They deserve their own title,” she told the publication. “B****es of the moment! That would be a good title for them.”

Seymour’s comments are what finally prompted Jenner to speak up in defense of herself and her friend — something she appropriately did via her website and app, of course. “If you’re going to tell us not to be in ‘your moment,’ then don’t be in mine!” Jenner wrote. “This moment is all about being supportive – NOT cyberbullying. But, if you choose to be a cyberbully, I’m going to stick up for myself.”

“If people want to call Gigi and I supermodels now, it doesn’t take anything away from supermodels of the past,” she wrote. “Obviously, I have so much respect for those women, but right now, we’re the models of this time. Significant? Maybe. Hardworking? For sure.”

Seymour later took to Instagram to apologize for her comments, elucidating that they were said jokingly and taken out of context. “A supermodel is a supermodel,” Seymour shared beneath a picture of Jenner and Hadid. “I respect and admire all these women in my industry, in particular Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner. Having been in the business over 20 years I know how hard these women work.”

But we’re not done yet. Oh no. Tyra Banks was next to weigh in, penning an essay for her website explaining that although she understands the frustrations of her fellow original supermodels, the new crop of fashion It Girls like Jenner and Hadid were working just as hard as they did back in the day.

Jenner and Hadid are “on countless covers, rule all the campaigns, walk everyone’s runway, have top designers on speed dial and everyone knows your name,” Tyra wrote. As for whether they’re ‘real’ models, “I think the answer is obvious.”

Lastly, there’s Naomi Campbell who graciously offered the girls catwalk lessons. “If I can ever help them, it’s a pleasure for me to do that. I’ve helped a few of them with their walks,” she shared with Remix magazine.

Now Adriana Lima and, we’re betting, the pair’s millions of Instagram followers agree. Consider the mic dropped … until next time, of course.

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