Bella Hadid Says This "Very Sexual" Dress Still Makes Her Embarrassed

"I think this was the start of the Bella persona that everyone sees of me."

At only 24 years old, model Bella Hadid has already had some very memorable red carpet looks—just check out her golden lung dress from his year's Cannes Film Festival. But she recently revealed one talked-about look makes her feel embarrassed to this day. Hadid participated in Vogue's "Life in Looks" video series, in which she went through some of her past red carpet, modeling, and casual outfits and shared the stories behind them.

With Hadid being still in her early 20s, her "Life in Looks" video only starts at 2015. And it's a dress from 2016 that brings back some uneasy memories. Read on to see which dress started an unexpected new chapter for Hadid.

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Bella Hadid said she was nervous in her high-cut gown from the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.

Bella Hadid at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival

"This is apparently a very iconic red dress moment," Hadid said in the Vogue video of the red Alexandre Vauthier gown she wore to the Cannes Film Festival in May 2016. The backless red halter dress is low-cut in the front and on the sides of the bodice and also has a high slit that goes up to the waist.

"I was nervous in this dress," Hadid added. "I look very sexual and all these things. I was still nervous about cameras, and nervous about having a lot of makeup on, and nervous about this slit—thank god I think there was maybe one little slip that happened."

She said the dress still makes her feel "embarrassed."

Bella Hadid at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival
magicinfoto /

"I kind of get embarrassed at this moment still," Hadid continued in the video about the Cannes appearance. "Even though the dress is gorgeous, it just, again, doesn't feel so much like me."

She explained that from that moment on, she sometimes takes on a red carpet persona that is different from her actual personality.

"I think this was the start of the Bella persona that everyone sees of me," she said. "That's my alter ego. That's Belinda. I'm just so the opposite of her. She's very va-va-voom. You know, bless her. Love her. She was very nervous."

It was called "possibly the sexiest dress of all time."

Bella Hadid at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival
Andrea Raffin /

Hadid's red Cannes dress also made a lot of headlines when she first wore it in 2016. It was called "possibly the sexiest dress of all time" and "the nakedest dress." Vanity Fair wrote that "the wisp of a satin dress will probably go down in history as one of the most iconic gowns to ever cross the carpet on the Croisette," referring to a prominent road in Cannes.

Hadid's stylist, Elizabeth Sulcer, shared with Vanity Fair that the dress had a "built-in silk bodysuit" that would keep Hadid covered up even with the high slit.

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At the time, Hadid called the dress "the riskiest thing I'll wear in a while."

Bella Hadid at the 2016 Met Gala
Ovidiu Hrubaru /

Five years ago when she wore the dress, Hadid admitted that it was a little scary. "I'm usually very simple with my red carpet looks—I tend to just wear black—so this was a big risk," she told Glamour U.K. in June 2016. "I was sort of scared about it, but I've had so much nice feedback which was exciting." She added, "I might wear a variation of it, but that's definitely the riskiest thing I'll wear in a while. I'll tone the next few down; you gotta keep them guessing and on their toes, you know?"

Hadid had another iconic Cannes look this year. 

Bella Hadid at the Cannes Film Festival in July 2021
Stefanie Rex/picture alliance via Getty Images

At this year's Cannes Film Festival, Hadid again made headlines, this time for a black Schiaparelli gown. The dress featured a very low-cut neckline with a gold necklace meant to look like the bronchi of lungs.

"I always knew I was going to wear this dress," Hadid said in the Vogue video. "I was really worried about how it would hold. It's also very wintery, this dress, so it was very hot out. It was a work of art."

"When I would look down, you could see everything. So, it was very bizarre walking on to the carpet with a breeze in places you wouldn't usually have a breeze," she said, adding that "the necklace wasn't as heavy as one would expect."

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Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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