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Neelam Gill is using her platform to help others suffering from domestic abuse

Neelam Gill is Hello! Fashion's June 2023 cover star...

neelam gill x hello! fashion
Becky Donaldson
Feature Director
Updated: May 3, 2023
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When in 2013, at the age of 18, model Neelam Gill was shot for Burberry, she became the first model with Indian origin to appear in a campaign for the British heritage brand. It was also the start of her stellar career. 

She was signed by Next Model Management at the age of 14, but, although signed, Neelam wanted to finish her A Levels. Then, at the age of 18, whilst working in a retail job at Hollister, she had a call from Burberry. 

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Ayana Top - Altuzarra
Ayana Top - Altuzarra
Safia Skirt - Altuzarra
Safia Skirt - Altuzarra

“I actually declined at first. I thought, I can't afford the travel and they're never going to want me,” she told us. “It was Burberry, Kate Moss models for them - and look at all the icons that have modelled for the brand, why would they want me?”

This is Neelam’s second Hello! Fashion cover, when she shot the first in 2017, she was quietly going through personal trauma, trapped in the abusive relationship. She’s now using her life experiences and platform to work with charities and to help others suffering from domestic abuse. 

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Blazer, £940, Trousers, £550, both Dundas Shoes, £675, Elie Saab, all at Luxury Stores
at Amazon© Jack Grange
Blazer, £940, Trousers, £550, both Dundas Shoes, £675, Elie Saab, all at Luxury Stores at Amazon
Other Leather Closed Pumps - Elie Saab
Other Leather Closed Pumps - Elie Saab

“I’m fine to talk about it honestly, I don’t mind,” she told us when we broached the subject. “And actually, I want to talk about it because it’s kind of a full circle moment, in the sense that last time I was in the heights of that relationship and it was a really tough time in my life. So, for me to be doing this again now… I would have never imagined my life to have changed in this way.”

Neelam found the strength to leave her ex-boyfriend over five years ago, but it was only relatively recently that she began to come to terms with what happened and to turn her life around. “It was only as the years went by that I realised that this is something that I need to accept; this is something that I shouldn't be ashamed of because, for a long time, I carried around this sense of shame and guilt.”

neelam gill x hello! fashion© Jack Grange
Dress, £1,395, Christopher Kane, Luxury Stores at Amazon
Rose Garden Dress - Christopher Kane
Rose Garden Dress - Christopher Kane

Shockingly, last year Neelam's ex-partner killed his girlfriend and then himself. It was only then that people reached out to her, speaking of the times she told them what she was going through under his abusive control. “It was only in that instance that I had an outpouring of support. People didn’t believe me at the time. I don't know if it's because of my job and my profession that people couldn’t fathom it.”

Looking back on her career, she says it’s strange how essentially, a big chunk of her life is documented. “I look at pictures of myself and I can remember exactly that moment. How I felt, what I did that day - you can give me a picture of myself anywhere and I could tell you.”

Dress, £1,200, Altuzarra, Luxury Stores at Amazon© Jack Grange
Dress, £1,200, Altuzarra, Luxury Stores at Amazon
Ayubi Dress - Altuzarra
Ayubi Dress - Altuzarra

And she certainly members what she was thinking on her first shoot for Burberry. “Oh God, I remember," she affirmed.

"Mario Testino was the photographer. He likes to set up the shot before he starts shooting, so we were all positioned into the right place on a sofa. He shoots on this really big old-school camera. I remember being very present, thinking to myself, just enjoy this moment, because I knew, after he took his first picture…my life was going to change, I just knew it.

“And it's true everything after that changed.”

The full interview with Neelam Gill appears in the June issue of Hello! Fashion, out now…

Photographer: Jack Grange

Stylist: Laura Weatherburn 

Stylist’s Assistants: Chloe Gallacher & Eve Fitzpatrick 

Photographer’s Assistant: Grace Tasselli 

Hair: Joe Kelly Using Ghd 

Make-up: Kenneth Soh At The Wall Group Using Giorgio Armani Makeup 

Nails: Jessica Thompson At Eighteen Using Dior Manicure Collection & Miss Dior Hand Cream

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