Under The Towel: Bella Hadid

We have a peek under the towel and behind-the-scenes in this exclusive film of Bella Hadid’s Towel Series shoot. The 19 year-old GQ Model of 2016 shows us how it’s done…


The series started with Kate Moss coming out of the shower, ready for a shoot. Her natural beauty, without hair and make-up, inspired Mario to snap a shot on his phone and post it to Instagram. Fast-forward to 2016, and the initial idea has more than taken off, allowing him unprecedented freedom to be his own client and capture models, actors and musicians without boundaries.

There’s no ideal formula to constructing a social media phenomenon. Whether it’s Carpool Karaoke or Vogue’s 73 Questions, each is unique, and its success, unpredictable. But it seems having the world’s best-loved celebrities, draped by towels, comes pretty close to viral perfection. A sense of intimacy seems to be the common link between all these trends – viewing celebrities through a different, more personal lens. Countless online imitators have attempted to recreate Gigi and Zayn’s Vogue shoot, or don their own towels, in a demonstration of the enormous reach and appeal of this intimate shooting style.

Our 24/7 news cycle demands celebrity news every other minute. And yet the Towel Series beats it to the punch – with a continuously sliding gallery of famous faces, presenting themselves to Instagram’s adoring gaze. They call the shots, and are at once vulnerable and glamorous, dressed-down and done-up.

Similarly, the series caters to the female audience, with the raw shots of Justin Bieber and Cody Simpson being the most liked and shared of all. By showcasing both men and women in equal measure, the series has become as much about eye candy as it has about character. Whether it’s Anna Wintour, poised and defiant, with crossed-arms in her dressing gown, Taylor Hill looking demure in an artfully constructed towel-crown, or even Derek Zoolander doing his ‘blue steel’, the value of each image lies in the personality shining through. Exposing, intimate, humorous – but all with a touch of glamour.

Artists are often fearful of repetition with their work, assuming that diversity is the defining element to success. Not so with the Towel Series. Though the subject may change, the concept stays the same. With millions of likes on social media, countless think pieces launched and the claim by V Magazine that it’s not just a hashtag “it’s a revelation”, the Towel Series both breaks and embraces this mold. As a long-time chronicler of orchestrated glamour, there’s no more fitting pet project for Mario.