Enter The Dreamy, Mesmerizing World of Beepy Bella
Isabella Lalonde is a New York-based designer on the rise; combining her skills in storytelling with her visual arts background, her label, Beepy Bella, has become the outlet of her fairytale-like, whimsical vision. Through her jewelry made of pearls, colorful charms, and glass beads she’s created her own world. Starting out with bracelets and necklaces, Beepy Bella has upcoming collaborations in various mediums such as corset t-shirts, scrunchies, and tote bags in the works. We can’t wait to see what Beepy Bella has in store for us in the future.
Milk spoke to Lalonde about the inspirations behind her brand, her favorite creatives, and the importance of collaboration and building relationships.
You have a fine arts background and an aesthetic that ties up your work altogether. How would you describe your aesthetic?
My visual eye acts as a portal into my personal utopia. Though I don’t consider myself the sole creator of this otherworldly place, I feel as though I am a citizen living and breathing in its safe haven, learning more about it as it continues to expand with my personal growth. It is directly related to my subconscious, and often acts as a bridge between my physical reality and my mental state.
How did you build this world? Did you have a creative background or study art in school?
My fantastical world began when I first realized I was consciously thinking. My initial memories of magical moments that I experienced on planet Earth guide my designs, intentions, and art practice to this day. My family often went up to the Catskills in winter and sometimes I would wander in the forest around the cabin in solitude. I was mesmerized by the way the winding creeks would ice over. Reminiscing about those first forest memories is really powerful for me. It’s something that I try to connect to, especially living in fast-paced New York. It’s important for me to harness my background and those special encounters in nature when the world felt so fresh and new.
Regarding my fine arts background, I’ve dabbled in experimental film, performance, writing, painting, and bookmaking. My favorite aspect of bookmaking is inventing characters and making up each descriptor of my fantasy. When I was younger, I illustrated and wrote a small zine about my pillow and how it was my only friend because my stuffed animals were mean to me. I’ve always been like in touch with that side of myself, as a storyteller, and an animator who daydreams beyond the life of inanimate objects.
Since I can remember, I have been a willing believer in fairies, mushrooms, and magical symbolism! These varying figures are a metaphor for the mindset I wish we could incorporate more into our self-reflection as humans, and what it means to exist on this mysterious and ever-growing planet.
What are some of your inspirations that fuel this vision you have for Beepy Bella?
One of my favorite movies is Fantastic Planet by Renee Laloux, filmed in the late 1970s. I also love Tim Burton’s Hansel & Gretel. One of my favorite books is The Codex Seranphinius and my favorite album is Plantasia by Morton Garson. It’s a unique album as it features music made for plants, as well as for humans. A key motif in my work is a deep respect for nature, and my wanting to let go of the human ego. As a species, humans innately believe we are superior to other animals and plants, and thus, we prioritize our needs. I believe if we truly had the opportunity to dream harder and challenge our modern reality, we could start communicating with plants and live holistically with mother nature.
What was it like studying jewelry design at Central St. Martins in London? What drew you to make jewelry?
The first time I started making jewelry was during a winter intensive at Central Saint Martins. My passion for the craft hit me by surprise. During the intensive, we were assigned to create 5 jewelry pieces and I ended up making over 15 pieces. My teacher and I still keep in touch and it felt like everyone around me was signaling that jewelry is my life calling.
When I make jewelry, my brain shuts off and goes into autopilot mode. It communicates a steady stream of ideas, and selecting each bead is similar to designing a garment, a design language. This passion runs throughout my waking hours (and sometimes into my dreams!). And my diverse background in fine art has manifested into diverse jewelry. I view each necklace, bracelet, and earring like a painting. That is why making one-of-a-kind pieces is a cathartic gesture, and never dull or boring for me. Each bead’s placement has an emotional reason for me.
Would you want to make more than just jewelry then? Any upcoming projects?
Beepy Bella has so many exciting collaborations coming out in the next several months. To start off, I’ve been working on a fabulous scrunchie collaboration with Isabelle Abbott and Grace OK. Isabelle makes her scrunchies with deadstock fabric and I found amazing vintage lace appliques and recycled pearl buttons to hand sew onto the scrunchies. Grace handmade the scrunchie bags with diverse fabrics, like polka-dotted organza and pastel pink silk. Regarding jewelry, I’m collaborating with the amazing ceramic artist Astrid Terrazas. She’s made her signature butterfly pendants, I wrote some copy and co-directed the theme for the designs. I strung the necklaces with handmade glass fruit beads and freshwater pearls. Switching hats, Karla Laidlaw is making her amazing corset shirts for Beepy Bella with the iconic mushroom logo. They’re hand-dyed in black and pink inks and feature a hot pink velvet ribbon tie on the back. Last but not least, Sean Kennedy sewed beautiful crocheted tote bags. He’s an amazing painter and has recently been experimenting with fabric and sewing, so these are really unique and match the spirit of my pearl necklaces.
Clearly collaboration is so important to you. What have you learned about yourself working with all these people?
Collaborating with people I find mesmerizing has been the most exciting part about having this platform. It’s a community onto itself and I’m inviting people to join my fantasy. It’s so valuable to have other people’s perspectives because it’s easy to get lost in your own head when you are world-building. Having to translate ideas to others helps me view my work objectively. Dissociation is imperative to the evolution of my process.
Is Beepy Bella a full-time endeavor now? How do you balance your life?
I actually work full time at Helmut Lang as a graphic designer and I absolutely love it. Graphic design is a wonderful way to creatively express myself, and I feel really fortunate to do so every day. Balancing a full-time gig with jewelry making and other freelance projects does mean a good deal of time management and planning ahead. I map out what I need to do each night after work for the upcoming two to three weeks. The spontaneity and art happens when I start doing whatever it is I have planned, but organizing has been a big key in keeping up with my personal and professional life. Another thing that has naturally helped is that I am more on the reclusive side as a person and that gives me a lot of time to work on my craft.