How I Shop: Halima Aden

The “Sports Illustrated” Swimsuit Issue second-timer also shares her proven at-home DIY facial recipe.

Halima Aden in custom Tommy Hilfiger burkini in the 2020 'Sports Illustrated' Swimsuit Issue.
Halima Aden in custom Tommy Hilfiger burkini in the 2020 ‘Sports Illustrated’ Swimsuit Issue.

Last year, Halima Aden made history as the first model to wear a hijab in the 56th edition of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. For her sophomore effort, Aden jetted to the beaches of the Dominican Republic for a gorgeous feature shot by photographer Kate Powers. 

“Coming back the second year — especially getting to know the girls over the launch and all the events they had done with the previous issue [last year in Miami] — it really felt like I was coming home to a family get together, as opposed to this big shoot,” the model tells Fashionista, over the phone, from her home in Minnesota. 

Aden confidently took ownership over her beach-y shoot, too: “[Editor M.J. Day and I] had definitely done some brainstorming ideas — I even sent the team a little mood board.” 

Aden says she was presented with over 40 burkini options for fittings to whittle down, to represent “different senses for different moods.” The final edit offers “classy and elegant” examples of modest swimwear, accessorized with beautiful head-pieces, ranging from styles to wear for lounging “on a boat with your family” to “more athletic, more functional, but still very beautiful” options for water-side activities.

“I actually had a custom-designed burkini from Tommy Hilfiger, which I was super excited to try on,” adds Aden. She collaborated with the designer, one of her favorites, on the full swimwear set and flowing camo scarf look (top). (In what feels like a lifetime ago in February, she walked the runway for Hilfiger’s star-studded Spring 2020 show during London Fashion Week.)

Aden wears Myra Swim in the 2020 'Sports Illustrated' Swimsuit Issue.
Aden wears Myra Swim in the 2020 ‘Sports Illustrated’ Swimsuit Issue.

The model enjoyed playing with bold scarves and wraps in creative ways for the shoot. “I got to do my own turban and twist it, which was really fun,” she says. “So you’ll definitely see some unique looking turban styles.” (And this dreamy straw hat look that Powers posted on her IG.)

The release of the Swimsuit Issue edition, under Sports Illustrated‘s new ownership by Authentic Brands Group, brings a welcome opportunity to revisit fond memories in a time of crisis. Aden has been keeping busy in quarantine: She recently worked with Allure and Anywear to create chic and sustainable hijab and mask sets, made out of sustainable organic bamboo materials, for frontline workers. “I personally was so bored with the white and blue traditional face mask covering colors,” she explains. “So I was like, what about something more fashionable? So colors I associate with peace and tranquility.”

Aden fills up her free-time with activities ranging from closet clean-outs (as she’ll describe below) to honing her culinary skills. “I’ve recently taken up cooking. Normally it’s takeout for me, but I actually got the new Chrissy Teigen pot set,” she explains. In between work and play, she chatted with Fashionista about what recent accessories are garnering compliments from strangers, how she makes her DIY facials and why, like the rest of us, she’s excited for the release of Rihanna’s new Fenty Skin line.

Halima Aden front row at the Etro runway show during Milan Fashion Week in January.
Halima Aden front row at the Etro runway show during Milan Fashion Week in January.

“I’m just keeping busy because, as difficult as it can be sometimes, it’s important to treat this time not as a vacation and time to be at home, but, really time for you to keep up with your style. 

“I recently redid my closet: Out with the old, in with the new. I was a little lazy, I will admit, because I still had a bunch of winter stuff in my closet and I was like, ‘Oh boy, it’s going to be really warm here in Minnesota for at least the next couple months.’ So just taking away all the winter clothes and filling up my closet with more spring/summer. There are really not that many opportunities to go out — events are all canceled — but mentally at least, it can be really good for you to just get up and get dressed, even if it’s a Zoom call or working on emails so you have a sense of normalcy. It can do wonders to still feel fashionable, for me at least. I’m a lot more productive [if I’m dressed], as opposed to just getting out of bed and trying to coordinate work stuff while still in pajamas. But when you do get in the habit, just for yourself, ‘OK, I’m doing my makeup and putting on a good work outfit.’ Professional chic.

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“But, believe it or not, I have not done lashes in the longest time and, honestly, I didn’t even know how to apply my own lashes. Sometimes I put on too much glue. Sometimes I put not enough glue on and then the edges start coming off. Definitely being a model and working in fashion has spoiled us because we work with some of the world’s best makeup artists. To relearn how to do my own makeup and how to apply my own lashes has been really fun. 

“I posted on my Instagram a video [below] and one photo which are examples of a day I was like, ‘I’m just going to get going and figure out something new to do.’ I posted that video of me singing, so it would brighten the day for people who are on my feed. It was a very empowering Somali song of people coming together and I love the message of unity. So I was like, ‘OK, I don’t waste my good look day just on myself. I can share it with my friends and family who follow me.’

“I definitely like making my own face scrubs and doing my own at-home, mix-it-yourself facials. I’ll share a recipe: I always cut an aloe vera plant into small chunks or little cubes. Leaving the gel in can be kind of a slimy ordeal, but it’s so worth it. Then I’ll put the chunks in the fridge, and the first thing I do when I wake up is take out that aloe vera — all-natural, no chemicals — and de-puff. Then you can mix powdered organic turmeric and a little bit of organic honey in with the aloe gel. That is so good for my skin. It brightens it, especially after going out in the sun. The aloe vera helps to heal from sun damage, and then the turmeric will actually brighten your skin in a natural way.

“Speaking of skincare, I am super excited for Fenty Skin to drop. Because I’m all about trying new skin care lines, so, wooooo. Having worked with Rihanna for my first-ever campaign, I’m excited to try out her new skincare line. She says she’s been working on it for two years, so I’m like, ‘Oh girl, if our skin is going to look half as good as yours? We’re good.’ But the products I’ve been using [currently] are products I’ve remained loyal to since pretty much all my time in fashion, so Tatcha and Dermalogica, which I’ve using since even I was in high school.

“I have definitely been shopping for a lot more casual stuff since we’re at-home, too, online at Net-a-Porter and [the just-shuttered] The Modist. It’s been amazing actually because Tory Burch sent me this massive haul which I was so appreciative for. People in my comments section were like, ‘Oh girl, where did you get these earrings [in the above video] that literally match your scarf to the T?’ That was actually from her.

“I recently got a new pair of white Yeezy Boost 350s that are really cute, and purses. I just got this new Tory Burch Lee Radziwell croc-embossed top-handle bag and it is stunning. My new staple. Sometimes, even in Minnesota, I’ll wear them just walking around. I’ll go grocery store and I always get a compliment and people are like, ‘Oh my gosh, I love your shoes’ or ‘I love your purse.’ Just little staples. A pair of Yeezys are always so helpful to just just run around. Then I got a new burkini from Mayovera, as well. 

<em>Aden walks the Tommy Hilfiger runway for Spring 2020 during London Fashion Week in February.</em>
Aden walks the Tommy Hilfiger runway for Spring 2020 during London Fashion Week in February.

“Some of my favorite designers are Tommy Hilfiger, Max Mara and Stella McCartney. They make pieces that are modest and timeless. That has always been my fashion style. Like, I dress modest, but I still want to be very modern and young and fresh. Those are the brands that are doing it right. So I’m definitely excited to get me some new MaxMara, some Stella McCartney, and some Tommy Hilfiger.

“Bottletop is another sustainable accessories brand that I really love. I’ve partnered with them before. They’ll hire mostly artisan women in Brazil. It’s amazing because not only are you shopping ethically, but you’re also helping fund these women to do their crafts and do what they love to do. Rothy’s is another amazing sustainable brand, where they take recycled plastic water bottles and they’ll turn them into these beautiful shoes and slippers and handbags. The whole point of Rothy’s, especially the shoes: You can literally take them off, throw them in the wash, and it’s back to like it’s brand new. So it stops people from wanting to go out and constantly throw out the old and go get a new one.

“I’ve always been somebody who — I always laugh — I collect people and friends everywhere I go. So I also love Pandora charms. I really love that concept of passing on a charm. You can have a charm from something that you did 20 years ago and still have it as a reminder of a place you visited or to remind you of a friend. My first and favorite is the elephant charm, because a couple years ago, Denise [Wallace] — who’s actually on the line — and I went to Kenya for the first time and we both adopted a baby elephant. So that was also a fun memory, ‘Oh, this is the day I legally became a parent!'” With other gifts, I might lose or misplace them, but when a friend gives me a charm, it’s something that I will always treasure and keep.”

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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