“I’ve been told my whole career that you have to be in New York if you want to be somebody. But you don’t have to be anywhere, you just have to be who you are,” states the subject of our new Closet -- the LA iconoclast fashion stylist, B. Åkerlund. Whether it’s intergalactic Vivenne Westwood thigh-highs worn with a pastel chiffon vintage dress, or a middle-finger earring and grills as explicit accents to head-to-toe black leather, B.’s unforgettable style is a million-percent herself. “In high school, I was always the shyest one, and it was hard for me talk in a crowd,” reveals the mercurial Swede who has styled everyone from Madonna to the Beastie Boys to Lady Gaga. “Through my clothing, I found my expression. I could put on something crazy and that was my language — my way of being present without having to open my mouth.”
What B. has currently, besides a veritable museum of kaftans, hats, and sunglasses, is a story stamped with authenticity. If someone tells her, “You’re a little loud and crazy; maybe you should tone it down — the Gap client won’t understand you,” B. responds, “But that’s not who I am.” B. also contains the work ethic and drive of a Springsteen power anthem. From selling tees at the Hard Rock Cafe, to waitressing (she was fired when she dyed her hair blue), to eating Top Ramen Noodles for days, to styling the indiest of indie movies for “deferred payment” (i.e., no money at all), B. has lived out her belief that the “the goal isn’t that far — if you want it, you can have it.”
Never going half-ass, B. drenches everything in her punk-couture theatrics, covering her children’s cribs in Swarovksi crystals and transforming Gaga into a femme fatale cyborg for “Paparazzi.” We are obsessed with her rock 'n’ roll diamond rings, her ability to make a Mickey Mouse hat sophisticated, and her uber attention to details (like wearing lilac flowers in her hair to let in the light on her dark, dreamy French-mime makeup). We are also obsessed with her “blood, sweat, and tears” journey from high school dropout to styling Madonna’s 2012 Super Bowl halftime show. As B. so truthfully puts it, “If you’re trying to be someone else, it ain’t gonna happen. You just have to be who you are, that’s it.” B. might be freaking out over her twins reaching the age when they're beginning to experiment with their own personal style, but she is ultimately more about her kids being themselves than she is about their wearing her Givenchy nose ring. Amazingly aware of who she is, B. is a proud 39, who feels that life has only just begun and is dreaming of manifesting her cup-is-full years on the Riviera with her husband, Jonas Åkerlund, while they reminisce over the life that they made, not the one that was handed to them.
Elisa + Lily