Isabella Fernandez, know as “Bella Donna” has set the bar very high for fashion models all over the Midwest and continues to grow her career and brand on a global scale. After graduating from Stephens College in 2016, Bella pursued a career in retail and curated her own shoots which were artful, fresh and featured herself as the model. Over the past year, she has walked in New York Fashion Week and been published in Vogue Italia — all while representing some of Kansas City’s most iconic brands.
Recently TSO sat down with Bella at the Made in KC Café and picked her brain…
TSO: How would you describe your style?
BD: Vampy Grandma. I like to wear loose clothing and be comfortable! A majority of my outfits have dark, sexy colors in them (hence the vampire part.) Wearing color is difficult but I know black will match everything. After all, if you’re going to spend money on an item, you want to know you’re going to wear it.
TSO: Why do go by the name “Bella Donna” for modeling?
BD: Bella is short for Isabella and Bella Donna, also means “beautiful woman” in Italian and “Donna” is a joke from eighth grade… So that worked out very well!
TSO: What do you do on the weekends?
BD: If I have a day off, I do things intentionally. I’m an introvert with extroverted tendencies so I always try to schedule days just for myself. I work A LOT and am always going to meetings or photo shoots. Many of my activities incorporate work in some way.
TSO: Does your work play a role in your personal style?
BD: I’ve been lucky to work (retail) for places that are very open to personal style and comfort. When it comes to life outside of modeling, I just want to be comfortable. I don’t want to have to worry about anything.
TSO: What’s your favorite item in your closet?
BD: Dresses are my go-to as the weather gets warmer, but my vintage denim jacket with faux fur cuffs is definitely my favorite! Although my style doesn’t always reflect it, I love 70s aesthetic. If I had all the money in the world, those are the items I would buy.
TSO: What brands you are passionate about?
BD: I love Reformation and their message. Sustainability is key. I was raised in a very environmentally conscious household so I like to thrift. I’m constantly changing up the items in my closet. When I need something new and funky, I hit up Arizona Trading Company in Westport or Rivermarket Antiques.
TSO: What is your favorite food?
BD: Cheese and hotdogs. I lived in Chicago for two and a half months and had a goal to try to eat 50 Chicago dogs. I consumed about 27 hot dogs in 54 days… I was basically eating hotdogs every other day.
TSO: I can imagine you’re busy all the time, but what does your ideal day off look like?
BD: Being at home, enjoying breakfast, organizing my space mentally and physically and going to the gym. Then the rest of the day would be spent doing nothing. I strive for stillness.
TSO: So are you basically always working?
BD: No, but I do model for things like figure drawing classes, which help strengthen certain aspects of my nude modeling. It’s actually very relaxing. I do hang with my friends! [laughs]
TSO: What do you want people to know about you?
BD: My education and what I learned in the classrooms of Stephens College really shaped who I am today. My education made me stronger and it made me not take any shit. They taught us that there will be times when you’re not going to feel empowered and people will try to walk all over you… They gave me the tools I needed to fight the bad guys.
TSO: What did you want to be when you were little?
BD: [laughing] A garbage man!
TSO: That’s a little different from what you’re doing now…
BD: Honestly, I’m very happy with my career, but I’m always fighting for more. I want to continue to inspire others even after I’m finished modeling.
Bella has recently taken her career to the next level by launching her model consulting and coaching business and hopes to one day start an agency of her own.
TSO: How did you come up with your Instagram @bellatrixortreat?
BD: My favorite holiday is Halloween and I love Harry Potter. I wanted something with my name in it, so it was perfect.
Regardless of whether Bella learned her tricks inside the classroom at Stephens College or in front of the camera during her extensive modeling career, she is an inspiration, a role model and a TSO Creative Cultivator.