DEBUT Student Describes Her Collection as Alice in Wonderland x Streetwear x Renaissance
With an artist for a mother and a musician for a father, Bella Madden has been immersed in a creative universe her entire life. She attended Westlake High School in Austin, Texas, then Austin Community College before moving to Los Angeles to study Fashion Design at FIDM. She will be showing her collection, “Whimsy,” in FIDM’s Annual DEBUT Runway Show live-streaming on Thursday, August 12, 2021 at 5:00 PM PDT. We caught up with the inspiring and talented designer to learn more about her creative journey.
What silhouettes and fabrics can we expect to see in your DEBUT collection? Volume! Big, gathered sleeves, skirts and dresses. Most of the looks are fitted at the waist. Aesthetically pleasing proportions are a must. I love to accentuate a woman’s neck, shoulders, and arms—creating a composition. Expect to see a very bold, colorful, and quirky collection. Shirting fabric blocking with several different kinds of baby pink plaids and polka dots. Then bright neon green comes into the mix. One of my illustrations of heads (one girl head, and some bunny heads) are coming out of a box. Fantasy!
How did you come to name your collection Whimsy? The definition of whimsy is, “playfully quaint or fanciful behavior or humor.” That explains me and my collection wonderfully. Whimsy is about enjoying the sparks of joy in life every day through fashion! Think Alice in Wonderland x streetwear x Renaissance? At least that is what I see.
Tell us a little about yourself: Hi! I am Bella!! Analeia Bella Madden. I am 23 years old from Austin, Texas. My dad is a musician and my mom was a painter. I have been surrounded by creativity my whole life. My parents literally dressed me like a fairy princess for the first four years of my life. My mom passed away when I was 11, but the memories of the dream-like, blissful childhood she created for me has inspired me to live life as artistically and authentically as she did. I grew up finding myself intrigued and inspired by fairy tales and manga/anime drawings. I value living life fantastically and eccentrically.
What is your point of view, as a designer? I think fashion can do things for different people. For some people, clothes are just something to cover your body; for others, fashion is an outlet for self expression. Fashion can even create an alternate reality in a way, or an escape to a life that is less mundane. For me, when I wear an outfit that makes me feel magical, my day reflects that sensation. I want people to feel that.
My point of view is that everyone should have fun with life, express themselves freely and wear whatever they want. For me, wearing bold, statement looks brings me joy. I feel confident, authentic, and proud because outfits are like pieces of art. I love to show off art and things I find beautiful. It lets me bring a part of my inside self to the outside.
How do you hope people will feel when they see your designs? When people see my designs, I hope they will feel whimsical, euphoric, gleeful, and untroubled. People take things too seriously! But for the people who truly see me and relate to my designs, I want them to feel inspired.
What inspires you as a creative and as a fashion designer? As a creative and a designer— heck as a whole human!—I am inspired by parts of life that make living beautiful, euphoric, and whimsical. Fashion, art, music, expression—things that make me feel passionate.
What is a lesson you’ve learned as you’ve been working on your collection? I have learned many lessons while making this collection. One of the most important is that I learned that I must embrace my quirks, BE AUTHENTIC, and not compare myself to others. If I toned down my quirkiness and eccentricity out of insecurity, I would not be ME!! I also learned that I can do anything I put my mind to ;).
Tell us about your path to FIDM: Oh dear, what a ride. In Texas, life was getting stale; I wasn’t being creative. I didn’t know what I needed exactly, but I knew I needed to be inspired. Someone from FIDM came into my interior design class at my high school to speak to us. I felt an urge to apply, so I did, and then I got in so I moved out to LA! I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I attended FIDM for two years and by the end I thought I had given up on fashion design. Pattern-making and sewing was not computing in my head. I thought that I wanted to stick to Illustrating. And then right before I was about to get my diploma, I got a message from FIDM saying they wanted to see a DEBUT collection from me. I was shook!! They really saw something in me that I didn’t realize I had!
How is FIDM helping you get closer to your career goals? FIDM has created a lot of opportunities for me by teaching me skills, networking, and giving me opportunities. Also, learning how to make clothes has had many transferable skills to other areas of my life, such as: patience, paying attention to detail, finishing what I start, and putting 100% into it.
Any advice for someone considering applying to be a DEBUT student? YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU FEEL FUELED TO! PAY NO MIND TO THE NAYSAYERS!
Anything else you’d like to share? And be authentic :)
Keep up with Bella Madden and her creative journey on Instagram @bellamadden.