At such a young age, Bella has already done so much. This stylish young woman met with us to talk about everything from World Pride, Lady Gaga, Cher’s belly button and meeting the Duchess!
Tell me about your childhood, where did you grow up?

I grew up in, predominantly, Upper Hutt. It was nice. I started primary school in Palmerston North, and then we moved to Levin for a year. It was quite outdoorsy, so that was really nice. I think what I’ve taken from my childhood is my resilience. I really know who I am, and what matters to me, and how to stand up for that - which is really important as a trans person, that ability to own who you are.

Have you always had an interest in fashion, or is it something that has developed?

Yeah, definitely. From as little as I can remember. Especially when I was first coming out, around the age of 10, I used to wear ball gowns and wedding dresses to the supermarket. Then it got to a point where this wasn’t practical anymore and so I’ve found a more casual style that doesn’t tone down who I am with the support of my family. So I’ve always had an eye for fashion, and as I’ve gotten older I’ve really come into my own with my style. I was raised in a way to be proud of who I am, which I’m really grateful for now.

Bella wears the RHIANNON ROBE from SS19/20
What inspires you?

When I was younger, and even now it would have to be Lady Gaga. Her met ball look this year broke history by turning the whole red carpet into a piece of performance art focused on her outfit which I just found that so incredible. So yeah, Lady Gaga has always been up there. Also, her music started coming out when I was coming out, she was called a freak - I was called a freak, so there is this affinity there. Also, other strong powerful woman like Cher and Adele. Especially Cher. Looking at her journey over the past 60 years, from being the first woman to show her belly button on TV - just incredible.

What’s the one item in your wardrobe you couldn’t live without?

Spanx. Definitely spanx. Being a girl with a little more curves, I love how they shape your body. I love being a piece of art, and spanx really help me to sculpt my body into the shapes I want!

Bella wears the RHIANNON ROBE from SS19/20
How did you find out about Jason?

I have always been a fan of The Carpenters Daughter, so through them really. I was also really lucky to have the opportunity to wear him when I met the royals last year, so that was really cool. I had the opportunity to go to two events with them. One in Wellington, and the other in Auckland. I was there with Rainbow Youth and it was really nice to have the chance to talk to the Duchess (Megan Markel) around feminism and making sure that her work included trans women. She has spoken a lot on feminism, so when she came over Rainbow Youth was introduced and she asked some of the issues we are facing. I was able to speak to her around the uprising that is happening both here and in England, around cis women not including trans women in their feminist movements. She grabbed my arm and she was like “I heard about this and I was horrified, tell me more”. She was just so awesome, and so lovely, really cared. It was a really awesome opportunity to be able to tell her about what Rainbow Youth does but also get to talk about how we can support our trans whanau as a community.

What do you like the Jason Lingard as a label?

I really like Jason’s emphasis on it being about the fashion, and not the body wearing the clothes. His garments are much more tools to be able to express yourself, and being such universal pieces are so easy to wear! They are also a really good size range, which is a great cause I love a bigger size.

Bella wears the CROW DRESS from SS18/19
You mentioned you’re going away on a trip, tell us about that!

I’m going to New York for New York Pride and the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. It’s also World Pride, so I’m really looking forward to that experience. It’s a pretty good time to go to New York. I’m also going to be going to a Human Rights Conference. So I’m really looking forward to meeting some new people. They are always a really good opportunity to meet others and gain a better understanding of some of the issues they are facing back in their home countries. It puts everything into perspective, and gives you an insight into how you can help them, and how they can help you.

What is your current fashion obsession?

Sneakers. Definitely sneakers. I love my sneakers. They are another thing that I’m really looking forward to stocking up on in the States!

Model: Bella

Photos: Bobby Corica

Styling: Darragh