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“It represents Off-White ideals”: Virgil Abloh Casts Gigi, Bella, and Yolanda Hadid at Off-White

 Bella Hadid, Gigi Hadid, Yolanda Hadid, Off-White

Bella Hadid, Gigi Hadid, and Yolanda Hadid at the Off-White fall 2020 show. Photo: Getty Images

It was a family affair on the Off-White runway with Bella Hadid opening the show, Gigi Hadid closing it, and their mother, Yolanda Hadid, walking mid-runway. The trio of veritable supermodels went out between audio of John Baldessari on art—high-minded!—and the soundtrack from Christopher Nolan’s Inception—pop! Backstage before the show, as the Hadid trifecta was getting ready together, creative director Virgil Abloh reflected on what makes them perfect Off-White muses. “Off-White is my diary, it’s my journal of what I’m seeing and what I think is important,” he began. “I think, What better sort of muse than not just one woman but a family unit, the three of them, a family of models? I wanted to have that be the anchor of the show.”

The idea to cast the mother and daughters originated in a message from Abloh to Bella and Gigi. “I sent out a text that was a little bit cryptic. I was like, ‘Hey, I have this idea for three Hadids to be in the show,’” Abloh explained. “We all thought he was talking about Anwar, and then all of a sudden he was like, ‘No, your mom!’ That’s why Virgil is a genius,” Bella said after the show. “It was amazing to walk the runway with her. I think that the outfit he put her in was perfect. It was the most amazing feeling because she’s always been the one that kind of gave us tips, and I think today I was more nervous than her.”

For Yolanda, the Off-White turn marked her first runway in almost 35 years. “It’s full circle, right?” she said, laughing, as she stood in the Off-White lineup before the show in a white graffiti-print blazer and black trousers. “It’s like riding a bicycle: You never forget how to walk.” Those who have been following the fall 2020 season know that the model mother has spent the past several weeks traveling between London, Milan, and Paris with her daughters—and those with real hawkeyes on the front row will have seen her whipping out her phone, beaming, as each of her daughters hits the catwalk. The honor was returned today, when both daughters turned into “my little managers,” as Yolanda calls them.

“That was me during rehearsal,” Bella laughed. “I opened the rehearsal and I ran back around to go film her from a seat because I wanted to get all the content. I’m just so happy that I was able to watch her do that. She was great.”

For Abloh, the family vibe is exactly the mood he wanted to cultivate at the show, casting the Hadids alongside a group of other powerful women including Noémie Lenoir, Mariacarla Boscono, Carolyn Murphy, and Isabeli Fontana. “I think casting is super important. I want that to be known about my brand: This is what I find inspiring and intriguing, so I want that to come to life,” he said.

He continued, drawing a parallel between the multihyphenate Hadid family and his own life: “I think that we have the contemporary version of the supermodels in them, and I thought that it represents Off-White ideals. If someone looked at me, a 39-year-old black guy, and said, ‘Oh, you can’t be a designer, there’s not that many of you. You make streetwear. You should just make hoodies and T-shirts,’ obviously the same could be said about them and their ability. Through our work ethic [we prove the naysayers wrong]. They do millions of shows, they travel millions of miles. Me, I put out an insane amount of work just to break the mold I might be perceived to be in. That commonality makes it effortless. It’s not contrived, it’s very much the emotion of how I think as a designer. Human first; translate that into inanimate objects like clothes.”

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