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Alana Hadid on Her Modeling Ambitions, Following in Her Younger Sisters' Footsteps and Those Fiona Apple Comparisons

Alana Hadid on the Elena Velez Spring 2024 runway.

Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight

Last month, Alana Hadid, older half-sister to Gigi and Bella, made headlines for her surprising first-ever turn on the runway, opening Saks Potts at Copenhagen Fashion Week. She immediately followed that up with a second appearance, walking for Munthe. 

It was all unexpected, she says: As a fan of Danish brands, the designer and stylist had only traveled to Copenhagen to attend shows, not model in them. However, she’s decided to keep the momentum going. On Tuesday, she made her New York Fashion Week debut as an exclusive for Elena Velez. This may just be the beginning of a new career for Hadid who, as many articles about her have pointed out, is 40.

Fashion’s path towards runway inclusivity has been a windy one, at best. The efforts of the body-positivity movement were quickly forgotten; racial diversity among models ebbs and flows; accessibility has barely begun to be addressed. Right now, though, age diversity seems to be having a moment, from the return of modeling stars of the 2010s like Jessica Stam and Julia Nobis, to the opening of doors to older “newcomers” like Hadid.

Of course, her last name will also inevitably be a factor in her success as a model, just like it is for models of all ages these days. (It was for Bella and Gigi, whose mother, Yolanda — who’s not Alana’s mother — modeled in the ’80s and early ’90s, before filming four seasons of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”.) 

Hadid is refreshingly aware of all the things you might say about her — her family’s domination of the industry, her resemblance to Fiona Apple, the prophetic nature of that “The Other Two” quote about a “third Hadid.” She takes it all in stride: She likes the fact that she’s having this new experience at 40, and there’s a certain calmness about the way she’s approaching it all that often comes from age and perspective (and, maybe, a bit of privilege).

I caught up with Hadid the day before New York Fashion Week began; still in Los Angeles, she sounded relaxed and ready for all that was to come. Ahead, read what she has to say about her plans for this season and why she thinks her family is so fashion-oriented. 

Saks Potts. Photo: Matt Jelonek/Getty Images

Munthe. Photos: Alena Zakirova/Getty Images

Are you a fan of Elena’s? How are you preparing for your first New York Fashion Week as a model?

I’ve been following her career for a while, pre-winning her CFDA Award. She’s such an awesome, amazing, really passionate and vulnerable designer, and I think that’s super cool and amazing. I love her designs. They’re just rogue and feminine and androgynous, and I’m excited to walk for her and support her as a designer. 

As far as preparing, I’m not really. I think I’m just getting excited for it. I probably walked a few times in some heels. I didn’t really prepare for Copenhagen, and it seemed to work out well for me. I don’t want to get too much in my head.

Will we see you in Europe at all?

We’ll see what comes about. When it comes to fashion, it always happens last-minute. And I know it’s not just for me — it’s for everyone. They find out where they’re walking right before. I’m hoping to walk in a few more fashion weeks for a bunch of different brands. I love walking. It’s a new passion for me, so I’d love to continue doing it for a long time.

What do you love about it?

It’s a huge adrenaline rush. There’s also this amazing camaraderie with the other models and the designers — I’ve experienced that in a lot of ways, but not as a model. And obviously, it’s exciting, and it’s given me another example of actually how hard it is to be a model. People think it’s really glamorous, and it is, but it’s also a lot of work.

Even though you’ve worked in fashion and been close to the modeling world, was there anything about actually doing it that surprised you?

I think I was surprised at how comfortable I felt personally on a runway. And I was very nervous going into my first show; in my second show, I was definitely nervous, but once I got out on the runway, I felt very at home.

What do you think it is about the Hadid genes (besides maybe physical beauty) that has led so many of you into the fashion world?

My mother was in fashion, Yolanda was also in fashion. My older sister Marielle was in fashion. I think there has to be something in our DNA, for sure. Also, it’s a place where you can be creative and hardworking and express yourself in a lot of different ways, and creativity is definitely in our blood. It keeps circling us back to fashion, and it’s exciting to do something different all the time. It’s cliché, but we do have a passion for fashion. 

Bella and Alana Hadid at a launch event for La Detresse in 2022

Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Despite being younger, have your half sisters shared any tips or words of wisdom regarding modeling?

I haven’t gotten tips or words of wisdom. I think possibly because I’m 40 and I’ve been in fashion for a long time that I don’t think they feel the need. They’ve just been cheering me on and excited to see what I do next and just very, very supportive. We’re just a super supportive family, and we’re excited for everything that we do.

To you, what’s the significance of doing this at 40 (if anything)?

It was amazing, and it was a phenomenal birthday present for me. It came right after my 40th birthday. That was also really beautiful, that it was unplanned and it just happened to come right after my 40th. But I think the significance of being 40 is just a reminder that life can begin [again, anytime]. I’ve lived many different lives, and this is just a new one happening at 40; you can start something new at 50 or 60, and it can be just as exhilarating as it would’ve been at 20. I also think that there’s something even more exhilarating about starting it at 40 and being able to experience this in another half of my life.

Did you ever think about modeling when you were younger?

I’ve modeled a little bit, but never at this level. It wasn’t necessarily something I was planning on doing. My sisters are phenomenal models. I’ve been loving experiencing their careers. It’s just been, as I said, a twist of fate that has been really amazing, and I do feel really comfortable doing it.

Are you sort of taking each opportunity as it comes, or do you have a bigger strategy when it comes to your modeling career?

I definitely wouldn’t say that there’s a bigger strategy. I’m honored every time a designer asks me to walk for them. The designers that I’ve walked for so far, and I’m sure in the future, are ones that I really am proud to walk for and that I really admire. If there’s any strategy, it’s highlighting designers that I really love and that I’ve loved for a long time, walking for people that I really align with and I think make beautiful clothes and also are beautiful people.

I have to ask: What have you made of all the Fiona Apple comparisons after your runway debut? Had you heard that before?

Yeah, it’s definitely not the first time. I actually did a joke TikTok a while ago with pictures of Fiona Apple. People have been saying that for a long time. I think Fiona Apple is stunning, so I will take the compliment. I hope she’s not offended by a bunch of people thinking that I’m Fiona Apple. But I’ve always loved her music, and I always have thought that she’s an incredibly beautiful, free woman, so if that’s the comparison, I’ll take it any day of the week. 

Lastly — and I’m only asking about this because I saw you commented on a meme of it on Instagram — what are your thoughts on that “The Other Two” quote?

I think that’s hilarious. I just love that there’s a meme that had anything to do with me. I don’t take any of that stuff offensively. I think it’s so funny, and I love that show — I haven’t watched the whole thing. I hadn’t even thought about it in reference to me, but the fact that it was referenced to me was an honor, so I’ll take it.

Note: this interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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