[C]hances are you’ve probably come across costume designer, stylist and director Bea Åkerlund’s work. Based between Stockholm and Los Angeles, she’s worked with a laundry list of the music industry’s most famed names from Lady Gaga and Madonna (on that Super Bowl performance) to Beyoncé and Britney Spears. With her long jet black hair and always-red-stained lips, Bea’s styling is as distinctive as she is.
It was while growing up in Stockholm that Bea discovered that she had a different vision to those around her. Realising that a society in which everyone wore the same thing wasn’t one she wanted to be part of, she set out on a mission to see the world, starting in the City of Angels. It was in LA that Bea found herself. “I came from a small country where everyone followed the same fashion and ideas. It wasn’t that standing out wasn’t acceptable there, I just found it easier to be who I wanted to be when I moved to LA. It was okay to be a different type of individual. I met people from very diverse backgrounds, which opened my eyes to a number of different cultures.”
Aside from the people, Bea wholeheartedly embraced the eclectic array of thrift stores, vintage boutiques and garage sales on her doorstep – something she’d not encountered before – as a vehicle through which to service her desire to dress up as a different person, or character, each day. According to her, this appetite can be attributed to her teen years as a club kid, during which she fronted a different costume nightly. “In high school I was the girl that had the most clothes. All my friends used to come and borrow my stuff. I always had a passion for shopping and dressing up. I was always very colour coordinated; that’s one of the best style tips ever: if you don’t know what to do, wear one colour and you’ll look quite cool. I had, like, 20 wigs and I would wear these crazy costumes every day. I quickly discovered that styling was a real job and something I thought I could be good at since it came naturally to me. Then I realised that it was something you get paid to do!” When asked how people perceived her outfits back then, she sums it up in one word. “Memorable,” she laughs. “If I got bored I’d just whip up something crazy and wear it to the supermarket. Life was more fun that way.”