meet bella hadid, the pizza-loving star of i-d’s guide to la
"I call her 'Squeegee,'" laughs Bella Hadid over the phone from Los Angeles. We're talking about her older sister Gigi, the golden-haired 19-year-old whose modeling career has suddenly made her face so recognizable that Bella recently tweeted, "when you're in an uber & the driver is staring so intensely at @GiGiHadid on a billboard on Sunset that he almost crashes."
She ended her tweet #goals. And while she and her sister are very clearly separate people, Bella has recently chosen to follow Gigi's career path - and you couldn't find a better role model than someone who advocates for kindness above all things, as Gigi does. "Her whole thing is 'always be nice to people,' which is something our mom has said our whole lives," Bella explains. "So it's not like she's given me any modeling advice, exactly - it has nothing to do with modeling, it's about the kind of person you are."
And what kind of person is Bella? She's kind, yes. But she's also fun and smart and upfront. When I ask her what her last meal on Earth would be she replies, "Pizza, I live for pizza," and I actually believe her. Which, considering her insanely athletic-looking physique (how long are her legs?!) and glowing skin, is not a given. But Bella really does love pizza. She posts pictures of herself grabbing slices with Miley Cyrus. And she reels off a list of her recent favorites over the phone. Though she moved to New York last year, and was raised in LA, she says the best pizza she's had lately was a deep-dish pie in Chicago. Controversial.
As a middle child though, and a Libra (she reads her horoscope every day), she says it's not in her nature to pick sides, or coasts. "I think I have my New York side and my Malibu side." She moved across the country last year to study photography at Parsons (she's always loved taking photos). But in between castings, classes, and an increasing number of shoots, it became too much to juggle. She also walked in her first New York runway show this past season. So school is on hold for now, but she's not ruling anything out: "I'm young!"
She's 18. And modeling isn't even her first career change so far. In another life, she could have been - and might still be - a professional equestrian or something to do with food (she's not quite sure what, but she sheepishly admits she started a long and rambling food blog a couple of years ago).
Bella is a nationally ranked competitive horserider. She started in the showring when she was three years old, and she had hoped to participate in the 2016 Olympics. Living in the East Village and riding every day are essentially mutually exclusive. But she's looking for a barn outside the city where she might be able to keep a horse. The only thing she doesn't want to talk about is her horse in California, which she had to sell when she moved away. "It's a really sensitive subject."
Back to food for a minute: during high school, as well as riding, Bella worked parttime at a smoothie bar. Which is interesting if only because it tells you how strangely normal her upbringing was considering her mother, Yolanda, was a supermodel (and is now a star of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills) and her father, Mohamed Hadid, is a property magnate. She was a would-be Olympian, but she was still expected to earn her own spending money.
And modeling hasn't changed that. Like the pizza thing, it's obviously a cliche to report that Bella is actually super normal - but she kind of is. Me: "You live in the East Village, where there are amazing vintage shops, do you go to any?" Bella: "A few. But I'm not really a big shopper. Mainly because I'm 19 and I can't afford to be! It's not like I can just go to Barneys!" Fair enough. In fact, her biggest indulgence is getting the occasional $40 massage from a little Chinese place near her apartment. That and just finding any downtime she can between jobs.
Bella is in the new Balmain ads with her sister. She's on the cover of V magazine this month, again with her sister, and again looking like the Veronica to Gigi's Betty. She walked in Tom Ford's fall/winter 2015 show in February. And her book at IMG already includes editorials for most of the big American glossies. In other words, she's hella busy. "All of my energy is put into my career right now," she says. "It's definitely nerve-wracking. I used to go to set really on-edge and be super conscious of everything, but now I'm more used to it. Now I know the people I'm working with, which is really fun."
Unprompted, she says that perhaps the most fun she's had so far was shooting her guide to LA for i-D with Columbine Goldsmith ("we really vibed"). And she's not just being polite. "Honestly, we were shooting by the beach - which is my favorite place in the world - and like three of my best friends were there. We got to ride around in my friend Jessie Jo's Cadillac all day." Plus, they got to eat a lot, which is always a win in her book. "I just got to be in Malibu and be myself and everything was natural."
Yes, she loves New York. But Malibu - specifically a little beach around the corner from Dume Point - is where her heart is. And there'd better be a barbecue.
Text Alice Newell-Hanson
Stills from Bella Hadid's Guide to LA
Direction Columbine Goldsmith