There is no hiding from the fact Bettina Looney is an absolute smoke show. Like a breath of fresh air, Bettina has swept into the fashion world, igniting the passion of designers and inspiring a new generation of Instagram followers. No longer interested in an army of emaciated models, the modern woman wants to see both affordable and aspirational clothes on someone they can relate to. With killer curves, style to die for, boundless energy and a smile to melt hearts, Bettina is both the girl next door and your wildest fantasy.
Born and raised in the USA, Bettina's stunning looks come from a cultural melting pot of American, Cuban and Italian roots. However, she was not always destined to be fashion's poster girl as growing up, her unique style and quirky sartorial choices tending to raise eyebrows rather than gaining approval.
We met gorgeous Bettina for a coffee at her home in Kensington, London to discover the story behind fashion's best dressed personal shopper and Instagram's newest influencer, how she got to where she is now and just what it is that makes her tick...
1.) Has it always been clear to you that you were destined for a career in Fashion?
If you knew me as a little girl, it actually doesn't make sense how I am in fashion. I used to kick and scream when my Mom wanted to take me to the shops, I absolutely hated it, who knew it would eventually end up being my career - haha!! I always experimented with my style and never really stuck to one thing until I left university of Florida.
Towards the end of my university years, I started to appreciate fashion more and created inspiration boards on Pinterest. I used to sit doing it for hours every day when the platform first launched, although I recently archived about 99% of it as clearly I didn't know what I was doing! If there was a skirt or top I liked on someone, I found it on Pinterest (this was before most of the links were attached to the image), I would search and search for hours until I found the piece so I could buy it. I remember thinking to myself that it would be fun to have a job doing the same thing working for Pinterest, adding the links to the images for girls like me to buy.
When I moved to London I began woking for a personal shopping company and doing just that. Clients would come into the office with their requests - photographs from magazines or descriptions of items they had seen on the street and I wouldn't stop searching until I found them, sometimes from five seasons ago.
My style is a bit funky and I am not afraid to wear something bold and fun. Moving to London was the best thing I ever did as people started appreciating my individual style and vision. I began getting noticed and invited to events, and getting the opportunity to work with more and more brands.
2.) How did you come to be an influencer?
I began working with a fashion concierge company when I moved to London three and a half years ago. There were only eight people there at the time and they needed someone to go into the shops and create stylised looks to showcase on social media in order to generate sales. At first I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but the looks I created turned into the pieces which were selling. This was when I realised how much people engaged when I posted complete looks which were created with my personal creative style and the twists I added gave people inspiration. I started playing around on my personal Instagram by posting outfits I was wearing during holidays and it all kicked off from there. Brands started reaching out for collaborations and I adored seeing the pieces and items I styled and promoted were appreciated and purchased by my clients.
3.) How do you describe your style and how do you choose what to wear each day?
I am a very visual person, always liking to feel comfortable in what I wear but at the same time, liking to stand out. Whether this means adding a cool, funky jacket, big chunky gold earrings, a shoe that pops or a trendy bag with a bit of colour. I don't mind being a little "OTT", I'll always have a statement piece, one thing that stands out more than the rest.
My evening wardrobe is where I tend to shine, literally and physically. Going out at night is an excuse to dress up and wear everything that you wouldn't really wear during the day which is a hundred times more fun! If I could sum up what I love and am currently inspired by in one word, it would be ATTICO. Girly, glitzy, sexy and always different from the rest.
White dress by Tongoro Studios, jewellery by Sophie Lis, bag from Cuban cigar shop
4.) Who are your style icons and who / what are you most influenced by when it comes to wardrobe choices?
I don't really have one person that I look up to in fashion. I am inspired by different things in each outfit / person that I see and use it as inspo. Everyone's vision is different and I appreciate that and like to combine things that I see to make it my own.
5.) What are your absolute favourite, couldn't live without, go to wardrobe staples?
COMFY SHOES, especially in London. I have more trainers than anything else in my wardrobe as I need them for my feet to be able to survive in this city. Also, my Celine scrappy white sandals which may as well have been painted onto my feet this summer as I never took them off. I am still trying to squeeze in a few more wears even though my toes are constantly numb from the freezing weather! These shoes have by far been my favourite ever purchase I love them so much. I need to find a sock that has just one slot for my big toe so I can wear them during the winter!!
White sandals from Celine
6.) You travel a lot. What are your top travel tips and essentials to be comfortable and stay fresh?
I am so OCD!!! I plan all my outfits before a trip so I don't have to think about them when I get to wherever I am going. I also hang them up together upon arrival so I can just wake up I don't have to think about getting dressed.
I carry Evian or rose water facial spray with me wherever I go. I spray it all day long and it keeps me feeling refreshed and clean. Paw paw cream from Australia I literally cannot live without. I put it in my carryon every time I travel and re-apply it all day as it feels so good on your lips and makes them so soft!
7.) Being at the forefront of the fashion industry with access to all the latest trends and launches, you must have unlimited wardrobe choices at your fingertips. Do you find it difficult to draw the line between featuring editorial and advertorial items on your instagram?
At this point I really try to accept things and buy things that are truly my style which can be used for both.There is no point having them separated, if you put pieces together in the right way that makes it feel like you, then you cannot go wrong.
8.) What is the most special piece of jewellery in you collection and why?
The most special piece I have in my jewellery collection is a ring that has a solid gold band with a diamond on the top. Its very simple, but meaningful to me. When I moved to London in April 2014, my Mom handed this piece to me to remember her by every time I wear it. The diamond is from my first diamond earring as a little girl and my Mom had it made into a ring for me to be able to have forever. It is a sentimental piece and means a lot to both of us, especially now that I am far away from my parents living in a different country.
Sequin outfit by Jiri Kalfar, jewellery by Sophie Lis
9.)What do you look for when buying jewellery for yourself and for others?
Anything gold and chunky tends to catch my eye!! When it comes to fine jewellery, I always try to invest in something timeless so I can hand it down to my daughter (hopefully) and grandchildren one day.
I love Sophie Lis jewellery because the pieces are so easy to wear everyday. My favourite is the Fallen Star necklace, I wear mine all the time.
I love vintage finds, costume or fine, these are always my favourite as they have a bit of history and a story that comes along with them. Also, no one else tends to have the same and I love having things which are a little different.
10.) What do you do as soon as you arrive in London? Favourite shops / designers / hangouts?
Chiltern, Shop at the Bluebird, Juice Baby is my jammm. I also generally have to go to Mount Street, Bond Street, Harrods etc to see what pieces have come into stock.
Love of your life.......
My boyfriend Carlos, he is my all. We have built a life we always wanted by doing it together and our careers have also grown in the same way. That's what a life partner is all about and I never thought that was a possibility until I met him. I couldn't imagine life without him! We were both born in Miami, went to the same university and had the same friends, yet I met him in London. Life has a funny way of working out... :)
In this shoot Bettina wears the following Sophie Lis jewellery. Click images to buy.