From pianist to digital influencer, Laurelle Gunderson is one of Philadelphia’s top fashion bloggers. Sharing tips on fashion and style went from being a hobby to a full time job.
Her sense of style has translated into amazing content that has made Laurelle Gunderson, our May cover guest, the most followed Instagram fashion influencer of our beautiful city of Philadelphia. A classical pianist, with two degrees in piano performance and a deep love for the Russian composers’ piano works, Laurelle started teaching after she graduated with her masters, but missed the performing and accompanying she had been previously doing. Craving a creative outlet, she started her blog Belle by Laurelle which turned into a full-time job! We had the pleasure of sitting down with Laurelle and ask her some questions about this amazing journey. Check it out!
1) You have more than 260k followers on Instagram. How did you become involved in this ”social media lifestyle”?
It’s still so crazy to me some days that it’s my job now! It started out as a hobby, and I was actually ‘blogging’ on Instagram about food. I had decided to go vegan and was learning how to cook and eat in a completely different way, and I was also feeling deprived of being able to be creative at my job and being an artistic/creative person, I needed an outlet. I started off documenting the recipes I made on my Instagram, and just fell in love with trying to create beautiful photos, sharing what I found and loved, and having a community on the platform. However, I really didn’t like the whole ‘spending hours cooking every day’ part to have new recipes/content, and I have such a deep love for fashion that eventually I ended up shifting gears and blogging about that!
2) And your love for fashion? How did that come about?
I’ve always had a deep love for fashion and aesthetics, as far back as I can remember. From loving to style dolls and barbies as a kid, to being in my early teens and begging my grandma to buy me Vogue issues and watch Project Runway or America’s Next Top Model, I was always consuming everything fashion-related I could get my hands on. I also had sketch books and would draw and design my own collections, which I eventually started doing with jewelry. I had a jewelry business for a while before I went to college, where I would design and handmake everything. I ended up going to school for pre-law, and then halfway through undergrad switching to piano performance and pedagogy. I still can’t believe how things came full-circle and that I am now working in fashion, but in so much neater of a way than I could ever have imagined!
3) What are your favorite labels/brands?
Oh, that’s a tough one! If we’re talking high-end, I have a weakness for French brands. I’d say YSL and Dior are my favorite, with the Italian brands Prada and Fendi close behind. I also really love American designer Vivienne Hu; she designs stunning sunglasses and coats! For everyday wear, I really like Lovers & Friends, Topshop, AFRM, and L’Academie.
4) What is your own fashion style? How do you describe it?
My style is really hard to define; it’s basically a fusion of opposites. For example, I love pairing a masculine blazer with a feminine piece like a lacy cami, a casual piece like distressed jeans with a more dressy piece like pointed-toe pumps, or a designer bag with an H&M outfit. I really enjoy finding artistic and tasteful ways to blend opposing styles and achieve unique and edgy, yet polished and approachable looks.
It’s funny, because I think my style is actually a pretty accurate reflection who I am as a person… as much as I loved fashion and makeup growing up, I also was such a tomboy! I loved playing video games, skateboarding and catching frogs. I was always different from everyone, never really fitting into one category, and I think my style ended up being the same!
5) You live in Philadelphia and so do quite a few of your followers. What does Philadelphia represent for you?
Philadelphia is home for me, and I think it always will be. For me, it means family, memories, my Italian roots and grandma, and great food… and community. There is a community here that a bigger city like New York (as much as I love NYC) just can’t have.
6) Does Philadelphia also ”breathe” fashion?
I don’t think I’d put it like that per-se, at least not compared to the major fashion capitals, but I would say that creativity and artistry run deep in Philly, which is one of the reasons why I love the city!!
7) We notice that you love to travel. How do your travels change you?
Yes, I love to travel! I think traveling helps most of us become more knowledgeable and cultured; it’s definitely done that for me. But I think more importantly it’s humbled me and helped me become more open-minded. You get reminded of how tiny you are compared to the rest of the world, and just how many different ways of living and thinking there are.
8) You were at the NYFW. Can you describe how it felt to be there? What is the importance of such events for fashion in general?
The first time I attended was magical. It was one of those things I’d dreamed of getting to see as a kid, but was 90% sure I never would. The shows are truly an artistic performance, and as someone with a masters in piano performance, I really appreciate that! Everything ties together, starting with the clothes and continuing through the choice of music, hair, makeup, and sometimes staging. I always leave feeling so inspired and excited about what I do and about the trends for the upcoming seasons. I also love that I get to connect much more than usual with brands and other content creators from around the world.
NYFW is part of Fashion Month, which happens twice a year. It starts in New York, heads to London, then Milan, and finishes in Paris. Each city has about a week where designers feature their new collections for the upcoming season; it’s their main opportunity to share their vision with a large audience, therefore getting buyers and building brand loyalty. The new collections also often have a big impact on the trends that become popular for that season so the shows serve as a bit of a ‘forecast’.
9) What inspires you in your professional and personal life?
It’s hard to not be constantly inspired in this industry! As I mentioned, the runways are a great source of inspiration style-wise, but my colleagues are also always inspiring me to not only constantly up my style game, but also to hustle hard, be real and vulnerable online (which can be intimidating when there are hundreds of thousands of people seeing what you put out each week!), and put out the best content I possibly can for my audience. My husband and parents are also a big source of inspiration for me. They’re selfless, loving, and humble, and some of the hardest workers I know! I also am a Christian, and God’s unconditional love for me constantly challenges and inspires me to show the same love and grace to everyone I meet!
10) One item currently missing in your closet and at the top of your ”Wish-List”?
A Dior bag! I love the brand so much but haven’t had the chance to invest in one of their bags yet. When I do, I’m almost positive it will be their Black Studded Diorama Bag!