Supermodel Gigi Hadid has spoken out about her quick response to being attacked at Milan Fashion Week, warning: ‘I do have that fighter in me.’
The 21-year-old was ambushed by prankster Vitalii Sediuk who lifted her off the ground as she left the Max Mara show with her model sister Bella, 19, on Thursday and responded by forcefully elbowing him to release herself from his grip.
and had EVERY RIGHT to defend myself. How dare that idiot thinks he has the right to man-handle a complete stranger. He ran quick tho 👊🏼😏🐱
— Gigi Hadid (@GiGiHadid) September 22, 2016
Defending her response in Lenny Letter, she said she felt endangered by the situation and that she wants girls to see the video of the attack and know that they too have ‘the right to fight back’.
Speaking to Girls creator Lena Dunham the night of the incident, the catwalk star said she practices boxing.
She said the incident felt like it was in ‘slow-mo’ and that she remembered seeing him and thinking: ‘Get me out of this situation.’
She added: ‘I played volleyball, and my coaches talked about muscle memory. I started boxing two years ago and I always remembered that.
‘Since then, I hadn’t been in a situation that forced me to fight back, but it just came out when he grabbed me — it wasn’t a choice. I do have that fighter in me.’
She said she ‘felt I was in danger’, adding that she had ‘every right to react’ in the way that she did.
Gigi said practice is essential in self-defense so that the reaction comes ‘naturally’ in the event of an attack.
‘If anything, I want girls to see the video and know that they have the right to fight back, too, if put in a similar situation,’ she said.
Since the incident she said she has been inundated with support – including from her mother Yolanda who she said sent her a text with a picture of her elbowing her attacker saying: ‘Good girl.’
She added: ‘It sounds cliché to say it, but in the moment, it wasn’t heroic to me. It was just what I had to do. It’s very touching to me that people see it that way. [sic]’
She said Yolanda taught her the ‘power of my instincts’ from a young age and that she regularly uses the ‘intuition’ her mother taught her in the fashion industry.
Video footage of the incident shows Gigi stopping to smile and pose for fans taking pictures before moving on to the road where she walks hand in hand with her sister in front of paparazzi.
Suddenly Gigi is seen being lifted in the air by Vitalii, who was dressed in a blazer, trilby and sunglasses.
She responds by elbowing him to release herself before following him and shouting expletives at him.
She shouts ‘who the f**k are you, you piece of s**t’ and tries to run after him but is pulled back by security.
As she steps into the car with her sister – both looking visibly shaken and distressed – she is seen asking somebody: ‘Can you go find them?’
Afterwards Vitalii, whose previous targets have included Vogue editor Anna Wintour and actor Brad Pitt, appeared to be unrepentant for his attack on the model.
The 27-year-old wrote on Instagram: ‘After encounter with Ms. Hadid at Max Mara show in Milan, I expressed my opinion that while I considered her beautiful, she and her friend Kendall Jenner, had nothing to do with high fashion, more of Instagram fame. I still stand with my opinion despite the backlash.’