Bella Hadid Reveals Her Runway Lingerie Insecurities & How Fenty Changed The Game For Her
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.
Bella Hadid might have walked the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show three times, but it turns out she didn’t feel all that great about it.
Speaking at the Vogue Fashion Festival in Paris on Friday, the model confessed that the first time she felt comfortable modeling lingerie was for Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty extravaganza during New York Fashion Week in September, in which she performed alongside models of all ages, shapes, and races.
“Rihanna’s amazing. For me, that was the first time on a runway that I felt really sexy. Because when I first did Fenty, I was doing other lingerie shows and I never felt powerful on a runway, like, in my underwear,” she told Loïc Prigent in front of an audience of several hundred at the Hôtel Potocki. Rihanna dressed her in a bright yellow lingerie set, matching lace scarf and gold belly chain, and told her to walk any way she wanted, giving her the confidence to strut her stuff in front of an audience, Hadid explained.
“I like being another character. I think at this point I don’t necessarily love being myself sometimes,” she continued. “Sometimes on the runway, you get either nervous or you forget how your legs move.”
The model admitted she often struggles to balance her emotional well-being with the demands of working with high-profile photographers like Steven Meisel and Mario Sorrenti, and designers like Tom Ford and the late Karl Lagerfeld — all industry figures that she lavishly praised and thanked for giving her opportunities.
“For a while, I just didn’t want to talk about it, and I’ve gone through a lot in the past few years with my health,” she said. “I feel guilty for being able to live this incredible life, have the opportunities that I do, but somehow still be depressed. It doesn’t make sense.”
The 23-year-old said things came to a head when her career took off.
“I would cry every single morning, I would cry during my lunch breaks, I would cry before I slept. I was very emotionally unstable for a while when I was working 14-hour days for four months straight as an 18-year-old. I think I just wanted to breathe a little bit. And so it kind of put me in a spiral,” she said.
After taking a break from social media, she now uses her platforms to promote awareness of issues she cares about, posting a message about her struggles on Instagram to mark World Mental Health Day on Oct. 10.
“Showing people what I support, the things that I love in my life that I’m passionate about is something that’s very important to me, so I hope that in the future I can show that more. For a while, I just shut it off, but I’m back,” she said, acknowledging that she can seem closed-off to strangers.
“I think I look really scary online a lot of the time,” she mused, adding that having briefly studied photography at Parsons in New York, she is generally more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it.
“I don’t love the camera that much but I’m a model, so I guess I should start.”
Smiling and eliciting frequent laughs from the adoring audience, Hadid said it was important for her fans to know there is a light at the end of the tunnel.