The love between Gigi Hadid and Tommy Hilfiger runs deep — so much so that when discussing her relationship with the designer Tuesday evening at the WWD Honors event, she choked up at two different times throughout the night.
Hilfiger was the man of the hour at the annual awards celebration, held this year at Cipriani South Street. Recognized by WWD with the John B. Fairchild Honor for Lifetime Achievement, Hilfiger was joined by wife Dee Ocleppo Hilfiger and was presented with the award by Hadid.
Hilfiger and Hadid met roughly six years ago when she came in to model for his brand. They would go on to work together on four collections of Tommy x Gigi.
“I think she was surprised that we really wanted her to come in and actually create with us. The first day she came into the design studio she was going to spend two hours, she spent eight hours,” Hilfiger remembered of their early meetings. “She became obsessed with choosing colors, fabrics, buttons and zippers. And now of course she has her own brand. I knew she had great style, and I love her all-American, Californian style.”
Hadid had dressed in Hilfiger’s favorite color — royal blue — for the event, wearing a textured double-breasted suit for the occasion.
“I don’t know if a lot of people know this, but I went to a couple seasons of castings at Tommy and didn’t get shows,” Hadid said ahead of the dinner and awards. “So my first Tommy show I was so excited and it was a dream come true. I won’t ever forget it. It was the football field show and I wore a red poncho — I still have it. Tommy gave it to me a couple years later as a gift.
“At that time, I was from California, I had done a lot of commercial work and Tommy was [one of the first] high fashion places that I felt like I belonged, at a time where at the beginning of my career not a lot of designers were grasping onto me,” Hadid continued. “And I think it took a few big-time fashion people, one of them being Tommy, to really embrace me.”
Hadid now designs her own line, Guest in Residence, but got her design start with Tommy x Gigi, an experience that made her emotional to recall.
“It’s the most meaningful experience of my life,” she said, pausing as she started to tear up. “The way that I saw myself grow in those four seasons, not a lot of people are given the chance or the trust in a brand. Looking back at the person who designed my first collection to who designed my fourth collection, I got to learn so much because I was given a world of creativity and freedom and trust from Tommy, someone who I looked up to so much, that it made me believe in myself and see myself in those leadership positions. Now in the times where I feel imposter syndrome I think back to learning from every season and tell myself ‘it will get better and you’ll be more proud of yourself.’ He taught me that and gave me that. It’s priceless.”