Bella Tunno: Fashion, function and philanthropy collide

Sometimes a company comes along with a fresh, unique take on a wide range of products, and I recently found one in Bella Tunno. Using patterns that are hip without being brash, and offering items that are needed but surprisingly hard-to-come-by (a stylish play smock where even the pockets are laminated!), Bella Tunno is a great place to visit if you’re looking for a knock-your-socks-off gift without a knock-your-socks-off price tag. The company’s accessory line has been included in the Golden Globe Awards baby gift bags, the Oscar Gift Basket and the MTV Style Lounge. We recently reviewed several Bella Tunno items — the Diaper Ditty Wristlet, the Designer Diner Chalk Mat and the Laminated Smock — and loved all three.

The Play Smock ($30) is the total package — style and substance! Owen is very much into painting and helping me cook, so his smock (in the Wonder Boy print; See picture above-left) has gotten a lot of use already. I’m pleased to say that it’s held up beautifully. The smock is completely laminated, pockets included, and it’s also machine washable. It ties at the back and at the neck, so you get a really snug fit, which I find to be a refreshing change from the traditional loose, bulky smocks that always strike me as awkward on a small child. If you know a budding artist or chef who has no interest in being a wallflower, this would make a great gift. Coco Arquette certainly thinks so! The 3 1/2-year-old daughter of actors Courteney Cox and David Arquette was recently gifted with one, and in a handwritten note to Bella Tunno, Coco (though we suspect it was written by Courteney!) called Bella Tunno’s play smocks a "great idea" that "saves my pretty dresses."

The Diaper Ditty Wristlet ($36) is a diaper clutch — part of an emerging trend to minimize the traditional diaper bag for moms who need only the barest of diapering essentials while on-the-go. Ditties unfold to hold a travel case of wipes, a few diapers and some "mom essentials" in a back pocket with Velcro closure. We tested the ‘Animal Chic’ print and found the ditty to be both fashionable and sturdy. And the gold wristlet/loop was a nice, quirky, touch — Our ditty is hanging on the knob of our coat closet door, just as Bella Tunno intended it to be! Everywhere I go with the ditty, I get asked about it, and who doesn’t love that feeling?

I love the idea behind the Designer Diner Chalk Mat ($22). The Designer Diner is a wipeable playmat ideal for use in restaurants or other public settings, only with a twist — It reverses to a reusable chalkboard, and comes complete with chalk and detachable chalk holder. We tested the ‘Ocean Breeze’ design and it is absolutely adorable. The Designer Diner folds up neatly and could easily be stashed in a large pocketbook, a diaper bag, or even your glove compartment. It’s just the perfect distraction for a fidgety toddler, whether you’re waiting for a meal or waiting for a traffic light to turn green.

Founder Michelle Tunno Buelow started Bella Tunno as a means of raising funds to finish her late brother’s doctorial project, and although she met that goal in late 2005, her commitment to charitable giving continues. With a stated purpose of proving that "fashion, function and philanthropy can co-exist," Michelle still donates a portion of all proceeds to drug-rehabilitation related organizations in memory of her brother. Bella Tunno’s products can be found in more than 1,500 domestic and international upscale boutiques, or ordered online at Bella Tunno.

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