IN CONVERSATION WITH GIA BAB
Interview by Anano Shalamberidze
A muse to many and a dear friend of the Numéro NL family, GIA BAB graces the third cover of our upcoming ninth print issue. GIA's impressive portfolio includes collaborations with iconic fashion houses like BURBERRY, JEAN PAUL GAULTIER, and MUGLER but she remains focused on the long game – building a legacy that amplifies her personal story and her role in promoting equality and representation. Numéro had a chance to chat with GIA about her creative journey, carreer goals and the importance of amplifying underrepresented voices.
Hi dear! Thank you for talking to us! Let’s start from the beginning…Can you share your journey of how you entered the world of modeling with our readers and what inspired you to pursue it as a career?
JOURNEY: While covering Europe’s side of client relations for the private members club Soho House, designer Riccardo Tisci of Burberry approached me at Soho House Berlin in 2021. He asked me to model for his London catwalk show and that’s when things really took off!
PURSUE: I felt called to become the representation I was missing, not only for BIPOC but for the entire LGBTQIA+ community.
It’s great to be celebrated this big, but I still don’t see enough models like myself in the industry. Now, I care less about the pretty pictures. They are often merely a paycheck. It’s about my legacy and the exemplary function of my story/mission in the broader sense.
How do you maintain a balance between your personal life and the demanding schedule of a model?
To be honest, I’m such a perfectionist, so everything I do, I NEED to do perfectly. Frankly, I can’t afford anything less as a black trans woman.
I have already developed a top sport mentality during my experience in Equestrian sports. I have driven nationally and internationally. In its essence, this has given me an athlete’s mentality that now strengthens me within my current position.
Afters years in the industry and an impressive body of work under your belt, I can imagine you have more creative freedom in choosing the projects you want to be a part of now than in the beginning. What kind of projects are you drawn to usually?
Make no mistake! My modeling career is two years old. People are often mistaken about that.
Creative freedom: Actually not that much! I and my team insist that every job that uses my voice and/or image stays in line with my mission, vision, legacy, or representation. I’m pretty strict about this! These are the jobs I’m leaning towards. For all the beautiful pictures, I insist that equal opportunity for all is represented in front of the lens as well as behind the scenes (A REQUIREMENT!).
From Jean Paul Gaultier to Mugler, you’ve done it all! What has been your favorite project to work on so far?
Because these are such big houses and opportunities, it is impossible for me to choose. Every house has its own magic. In addition, there are so many beautiful houses that I would like to work with. For me, the aim now is longevity; The possibility of working with these and other houses on beautiful things/campaigns in the long run. Amplifying their corporate story as well as my personal one.
If you could take on any other role within the fashion industry, what job/craft do you think you would be good at?
Hands down, a casting director! They play such an important role in how diversity is celebrated within campaigns, shows etc. Oftentimes, the lack thereof, to be honest.
It would be an honor to wear this specific hat.
Can you share any behind-the-scenes insights into the preparation and process that goes into a high-profile photo shoot or runway show?
Mindset: One thing people will always say about me is that I bring positive energy to the set. You are part of the team and therefore part of the good energy. Otherwise, it would be disrespectful to the client. You will never see me on set with a disinterested look and headphones.
In addition, sports and nutrition are the essence of arriving on set with a positive mentality. Sport and nutrition make me feel like the best version of myself.
Could you tell us about a particularly challenging moment you’ve faced in your career and how you overcame it?
My highest high led to my lowest low within a matter of 24 hours. From my appearance on the Burberry show to my brother’s passing from COVID. But what it did give me, is an unparalleled drive and a guardian angel named Luigi.
In your opinion, what’s the biggest misconception people have about the life of an international model?
The absolute biggest misconception is that we’re all living the high life! Make no mistake; it’s extremely hard work with more noes than yeses.
This is where personal mental strength comes into play.
What advice do you have for aspiring models who are looking to break into the international scene?
In all honesty, this day and age is an amazing time. There are opportunities for all. I advise everyone to have a mission before wanting the job. Who do you want to inspire? What is your ‘why’? This will help you find your drive and purpose when things aren’t going as well as you would like.
Do you have a career milestone you still would like to reach? What are your future aspirations within and beyond the modeling industry?
I’d love to do a big global beauty campaign for a huge house. To be celebrated as a pinnacle of beauty would mean so much. Not only to me but to my community.
To use my voice and platform to spread the message of equality and representation within different avenues of the industry. Ultimately starting my own charitable foundation. I feel an intrinsic motivation to give back in any form. As long as I have an impact on people, especially those who greatly need it. From the LGBTQIA+ community and beyond!
Lastly, Numéro’s next issue is titled “Resonance”. How do memories influence your creative work? What role do they play in inspiring your artistic expression?
From an early age, I have always been inspired by the memory of my mother putting on make-up as a professional beautician. How she armed herself for the world back then has shown me the freedom you have to have when expressing yourself creatively. This has strengthened me on a deep level to really be myself. A full-circle moment. At the same time, there is the memory of the freedom I feel on the back of a horse. These are the memories that intrigue me day to day in my creative expression of self.
Everything people see of me now is a summary of this. A full circle moment.
talent GIA BAB @giabab
photography and styling GINO GURRIERI @ginogurrieri
hair and makeup EVA COPPER @evacopper & SAMMY DOES @samu.el @houseoforangeagency
nail artist DANIEL SMEDEMAN @danielsmedeman @houseoforangeagency
casting SIMON VAN STIGT @simon.v.stigt
photography assistance JAANE JAIN @jaanejain
styling assistance CHI YEN LAM @chiyenlam
male models HAKIM & SAMUEL @hakimnkengurutse @samu.el @brooksmodelingagency MICHIEL @michieloninsta @theeyemgmt
interview ANANO SHALAMBERIDZE @underdressedkid
cover design ARTHUR ROELOFFZEN @arthurroeloffzen