For the past month, the Lower East Side gallery Larrie has been playing host to the fashion pop-up Café Forgot, a treasure trove of playful, one-of-a-kind pieces. There are New York–based designer Martina Cox’s cheeky window pants, sculpture-like cage skirts by Los Angeles artist Runny Babbit, and, perhaps most eye-catching of all, jewelry by the New Jersey-based artist Isabella Lalonde, produced under the name Beepy Bella. Lalonde mostly makes pearl necklaces (there are also some tourmaline stones, handcrafted into silver mushroom charms, on her web store), but they’re very far removed from the ones you might have seen on your grandmother’s bureau growing up. Just take the personified descriptions that she writes for them on her website: Venom II, a necklace that threads together forest green and lilac pearls and is finished off with a cross-like glass pendant in the center, “grew up in a forest, was raised by deers, and loves the smell of lavender.”
Lalonde, who is 23, grew up between Switzerland, Paris, and New Jersey—her dad works in the fashion industry, and the family moved around a lot as he worked for different brands—and she went on to study fine arts at Parsons School of Design, where she dabbled in video art, performance art, painting, illustration, and bookmaking. She first started experimenting with precious metals while taking an experimental jewelry class at Central Saint Martins, but after brief stints working in Vogue’s fashion closet and for Dior’s media team, she’s committed herself even further to the practice in her free time. She currently has a full-time gig at Helmut Lang as a graphic designer, but still finds spare hours to work in a glass-blowing studio to create the mushroom and devil charms that dot her necklaces, as well as to source the vintage Louis Vuitton charms and beads she likes to weave throughout her designs.
Lalonde’s jewelry, which feels conjured up from a child’s most ornate fairy-tale fantasy, combines wonky freshwater pearls, hand-dyed crystals, glass beads that Lalonde often blows herself by hand, and singular handcrafted charms that she finds on her travels or on Etsy. Wearing one of these pieces completely elevates an outfit, which is exactly her intent. “I found this vintage Judith Ripka pearl necklace on Etsy, and when I got it kind of transformed my whole closet,” says Lalonde over the phone from Toronto, where she’s visiting her grandmother. “I wanted to make something that had that same sensibility for other people, which is definitely why I started making all the necklaces I make now.”
Her personal style, too, seems cut from the very same fantastical fabric as her jewelry. “Escapism is important to me,” Lalonde says. “I really like to connect to my younger self and my childhood, and I think the way I dress has a lot do with building a bridge from who I am now to who I was as a child.” Lalonde didn’t always dress in mary jane creepers adorned with bulging cat eyes on the front and shibori-dyed jeans, though—when she moved from Paris to New Jersey when she was in high school, she very much leaned into an all-black wardrobe that would best be described as classic Parisian chic. These days, however, her colorful outfits (which still sometimes bear that initial metropolitan influence, naturally) are inspired as much by the doll-like style of Canadian children’s show The Big Comfy Couch as they are by old science-fiction films like Forbidden Planet.
Lalonde’s enchanted world is only continuing to expand—she’s been making bracelets recently, and there’s a scrunchie collaboration to come—but for now, she’s diving further into that time when she wholeheartedly believed in magic and fairies through her wardrobe. “The way I dress is a reflection of that youthful escapism, where everything is sparkling and there’s roses and unicorns and so many beautiful things,” Lalonde says. “It’s within this world, but it’s a metaphor for the world that I feel like my soul is a part of. My clothes are the bridge into my utopia—my own personal utopia.”
Originally Appeared on Vogue