What Can We Learn From Bella Hadid’s NYFW Fall?

Aside from the fact that not even supermodels can walk in high heels....

What Can We Learn From Bella Hadid's NYFW Fall?

by Vicky Spratt |
Published on

I will concede, from the off, that there are some meals so delicious-looking that they demand to be documented. There are some holidays so envy-inducing that they must be Instagrammed. And, the dogs of strangers in the street are often just crying out to be live streamed.

Holding up our phones to capture what we do, eat wear and witness has become more than second nature, it’s basic instinct. When they analyse our generations’ remains they will be dumbfounded by our enlarged scrolling thumbs, unless of course the human race has evolved to have an all-purpose extended double jointed thumb by then.

In some ways it’s great that smartphones have become an extension of ourselves, where would we be if we couldn’t record every sunset for posterity in all of its watercolour box glory? But is a danger that as we all become amateur photojournalists we’re losing something of ourselves? In our rush to document everything through the lens of social media do we forget what's actually important?

Yesterday Bella Hadid fell over on the Michael Kors catwalk in one of her final New York Fashion Week shows. There’s nothing particularly revelatory here. Models tumble on catwalks all the time, we’ve all seen the iconic (professional) photo of Naomi Campbell falling back on her heels at a Vivienne Westwood show in the 90s. Bella isn’t the first to fall over during a fashion show and she won’t be the last.


What was striking about Bella’s fall was not the fall itself. I challenge anyone to walk a mile in the shoes that were strapped to her feet during this particular incident and not place a foot wrong. Nor was it the photographs of her in free fall or on all fours as she hit the runway, somehow she managed to make it all look rather artful. What stood out was the behaviour of bystanders.

What did the grand dame of punk rock, Vivienne Westwood, do when a model’s outfit malfunctioned on her own catwalk earlier this year at Paris Fashion Week leaving a breast exposed? She got up, left her seat and went over to the model as she walked in front of all the cameras and sorted her out. She readjusted the outfit and covered up her right tit before sending her on her way.

What did the people who were sitting just metres away from Bella Hadid as she fell do? They not only remained seated, they videoed and photographed her as she wobbled, struggled to regain her balance and eventually fell. Nobody moves to help or steady her. Instead they reach for their smartphones to make sure they document the moment for social media despite the presence of professional photographers, also documenting the event.

Is what the images of Bella’s fall really capture is a snapshot of how our instincts are being altered by online life, where you can’t actually reach out and touch anyone? Do we care more about going viral than we do about another human being?

When Carrie Bradshaw walks in a fashion show in an episode of Sex and The City she trips and belly flops on the runway. She becomes what she calls ‘fashion roadkill’ as other models step over her, the show must go on after all.

The photographs of people photographing Bella Hadid’s fall suggest that it’s not her who became fashion roadkill, but the rest of us who’d rather take a picture than get up and lend a hand. It’s a professional photographer’s job to take pictures and document everything they see not matter what – that’s how some of the greatest and most iconic images of all time have been snapped. They train hard to make sure they can override their instincts in distracting and even dangerous situations so that they can keep doing their job, even when they may be under threat. They don’t always feel great about it afterwards.

Most of us, despite what Instagram might make us believe, are not professional photographers. Much better to be photographed getting up to help someone who’s about to fall over IRL, than be photographed photographing them so you can post about it online. #meta.

As for Bella, she got up and carried on like a pro. She's also managed to see the lolz side on social media, who can blame her. If Naomi Campbell's fall was anything to go by all publicity is good publicity...

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Follow Vicky on Twitter @Victoria_Spratt

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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