Jelena Noura (Gigi) Hadid celebrated her 24th birthday on Tuesday, April 23 — and the ceremony was so exclusive that the iconic American fashion model decided to impose a dress code. Denim on denim was the couture of the day at New York’s L’Avenue at Saks, where Hadid welcomed Taylor Swift, sister and fellow model Bella and former Miss USA Olivia Culpo among the well-wishers, with Bella echoing the crowd’s sentiments over social media.
Net Worth: $29 Million
“Happy birthday to my best friend by blood and by choice,” her post read. “I am so lucky. You are everything good, my sweet sister. Your empathy, love, loyalty and work ethic are some of the reasons you are so beyond loved by so many.”
The price tags were as lofty as the acclaim. Culpo’s studded knee-high boots retail for $1,575, and Hadid’s outfits reportedly cost upward of $25,000. As staggering as those figures may be, their meaning pales when your net worth is in the same stratosphere.
Seventh on the list
Hadid’s net worth is $29 million. The Los Angeles native took in $9.5 million in 2018, seventh on a list headed by Kendall Jenner, at $22.5 million.
Together, the world’s ten highest-paid models made $113 million before fees and taxes between June 1, 2017, and June 1, 2018. That represents a small increase from the $109.5 million reflected on the 2017 Forbes list.
Those figures don’t materialize without lots of longevity and hard work. Hadid herself, who stands 5 feet, 10 inches, was born to Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Yolanda Hadid and says she began modeling at “like 2 years old” after being discovered by Guess clothing and modeling for the Baby Guess line. She graduated from Malibu High School in 2013, parlaying a fascination with murder mysteries into study of criminal justice at The New School in Greenwich Village.
“Although I’m so intrigued by that field of work,” she told Harper’s Bazaar magazine, “I think that if I would have had a career in that I would’ve still ended up working in something creative instead. Even after I’m done modeling, I think I’ll always be a part of a creative process somehow.”
There’s always a catch
Since then, she’s worked with brands such as Victoria’s Secret, Versace and Reebok and has appeared on international fashion magazine covers and on runways around the world.
She also may be one of the luckier figures in her industry. A 2016 CNNMoney story revaeled that commissions are the modeling field’s lifeblood and that agencies charge their models a 20 percent commission, along with a similar amount to the model’s client, before other expenses (like taxes) are deducted.
The article said one model’s paycheck reflected a total of $6,475, down from $30,000 after the commission and a tax take.
The venues often call themselves managing companies instead of employment agencies, and critics say they’re thus violating laws that cap employment agency fees.
For Hadid’s part, her stellar earnings landscape may also be compromised amid difficulties with her health.
‘Too big for the industry’
In February of 2018, she responded on social media to those who said she looked thin during her New York Fashion Week appearances, revealing she suffers from Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune response that causes an underactive thyroid gland. Symptoms include fatigue, sensitivity to cold, weight gain and depression and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
“For those of you so determined to come up with why my body has changed over the years,” she posted, “you may not know that when I started at 17 I was not yet diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease; those of you who called me ’too big for the industry’ were seeing inflammation and water retention due to that.” She said that Hashimoto’s was responsible for her subsequently slender physique and that medication helps with metabolic issues and her body’s inability to retain heat.
Her post ended with a plea for more empathy with others. “Use your energy,” she said, “to lift those that you admire rather than be cruel to those you don’t,” she concluded.
What was undoubtedly a happy birthday celebration feted a central figure whose net worth comes with several strings attached. Money and fame, she notes, don’t always equate with the public mind’s idea of success.