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The Albanian Designer Behind Bella Hadid’s Provocative ’90s-Inspired VMAs Look

01/09/2020

On Saturday, Bella Hadid stepped out in New York looking as if she’d just emerged from a minimalist fashion show in the late ’90s. Later shot on a green screen, it turned out to be the attention-grabbing tailored ensemble she unveiled at the VMAs last night. Though pared-back, the outfit packed a punch with its understated sexiness. What appeared to be an exposed thong strap was actually a detachable hip strap embedded in a pair of low-slung black pants. (It was not unlike the lingerie-meets-pants contraption that Tom Ford showed for Gucci in Spring 1998). Hadid wore a dangerously sheer long-sleeved top cut off the shoulder that clung to her upper biceps and a sleek black bra top made from two tiny discs.

The look itself was created by the London-based Albanian designer Nensi Dojak. The Central Saint Martins graduate showed her collection at Fashion East’s collective show in London back in February, an offering of teeny, sheer, and simple dresses that Vogue’s Chief Critic Sarah Mower drew comparisons to the late ’90s London fashion star, Sophia Kokosalaki. You won’t be hard pressed to see her references to the decade, either. Dojak, who moved from Tirana, Albania to London when she was 16 to attend school, was an avid collector of ’90s fashion magazines and that teenage obsession inspired her Hadid-approved fall 2021 collection. “The minimalist, industrial nature of the ‘90s felt raw and honest,” says Dojak over the phone from London. “[Also], the focus on the detail, as the well as the juxtaposition of feminine and masculine.” While Dojak typically drapes her pieces from scratch on a mannequin, the look Hadid wore introduced tailoring to the designs for the first time.

Photo: Courtesy of Getty

It was stylist Carlos Nazario who introduced Hadid to the label, making her the first celebrity to wear Dojak’s designs on the red carpet.“I was quite eager to make it happen. I sent them quite a lot of things,” she who received the request from Nazario last week. “Plus, I could imagine Bella looking amazing in my stuff.” Dojak, who does not watch award shows typically, stayed up late in London specifically to catch Hadid at the event. “I was too excited,” she says.

The supermodel moment has had quite a ripple effect for Dojak’s brand. Both the top ($742) and trousers ($1,063) are now sold out on SSENSE.com, Dojak’s main stocklist. There has also been quite a bit of buzz in her native Albania. Since Hadid appeared in the look, the designer’s name has been making the rounds in the country’s local papers. “[I am] very happy to bring a little pride to my small country that has many talented people that I think need a push and support,” she says. The last 24 hours have certainly been thrilling for the up-and-coming fashion star, and she’s been more than pleased with how things played out at the awards show. Hadid is pleased, as well. The model later posted on her Instagram and shouted out the designer: “wearing incredibly talented young designer @nensidojaka.” And where the supermodel’s Instagram goes, others are bound to follow.

 

From Vogue US

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