On the runway, Bella Hadid exudes confidence — but she doesn’t always feel as powerful as she looks. Hadid opened up about her ongoing behind-the-scenes struggles in an interview at this year’s Vogue Fashion Festival, sharing that she never felt completely comfortable modeling lingerie until she walked her first Savage x Fenty show in 2018.
“For me, that was the first time on a runway that I felt really sexy,” Hadid said at the Paris festival. “When I first did Fenty, I was doing other lingerie shows and I never felt powerful on a runway, like, in my underwear.” Hadid said that she feels most comfortable in lingerie when playing a character.
Hadid famously walked the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show as an Angel three times. In the past several years, the major lingerie retailer has been criticized for everything from its lack of inclusivity to its CEO’s friendship with the accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. In 2018, former Victoria’s Secret executive Ed Razek came under fire when he told Vogue that plus-size and trans women would not be welcomed on the catwalk.
Rihanna — who Hadid described as “amazing” — created an entirely different environment on and off the runway. At the inaugural Fenty show, Hadid walked alongside models of all ages, sizes, and backgrounds, including the pregnant Slick Woods. Hadid walked the show again this September with models including Joan Smalls, Normani, Cara Delevingne, Laverne Cox, and her sister, Gigi Hadid.
Rihanna has said over and over again that her lingerie line is for everyone: “Women should be wearing lingerie for their damn selves. I want people to wear Savage x Fenty and think, ‘I’m a bad bitch,’” she told Vogue in 2018.
In the same conversation, Hadid said that she has struggled for years with her mental health, something that has impacted her modeling career. She admitted that she has felt “guilty” for feeling so depressed, given the opportunities she has had — but now, she said, she is ready to talk about her experiences. “I feel like I would be doing a disservice to myself if I didn’t speak about something such as mental health, because that’s pretty much what I’ve been going through for the past five years very intensely,” she said.