Queen B’s mission

Queen B’s mission

by marlies|dekkers

Not only do I admire Swedish super stylist B. Akerlund (41) for creating some of the world’s most iconic looks – Lady Gaga’s ‘Paparazzi’ video, Madonna’s Super Bowl halftime show, Beyoncé swinging a bat in ‘that’ yellow dress – I also recognize in her a fellow Feminine Feminist. “My job? To make women strong, sexy and unstoppable.”

Marlies: Bea, first of all I want to thank you so much for using my Golden Karo bra in Britney Spears’ Work B**ch video. I had envisioned a bra like golden armour, but people kept telling me it couldn’t be made. I had to move heaven and earth! To see Britney lashing her whip in that pièce de résistance was such a glorious, empowering moment!

Bea: Yes! That’s what it’s about, women supporting women! And I love using your stuff exactly for that reason: because it’s empowering. Also for myself; I have a bunch of your bras actually!

Marlies: Edith Head, the inspiration for my latest collections, always said: ‘You can be anything in life if you dress for it.’ Do you relate to that?

Bea: Absolutely! I built my whole career around dressing how I feel. That’s how I became a stylist. I started at a very young age to theme-dress, and I’ve always been very colour-coordinated. It’s how I found my love for fashion. Then one day someone told me that I could actually dress other people and make money! That was such a revelation. When I started 25 years ago, nobody even knew what a stylist was.

Marlies: I really get the concept of ‘theme-dressing’. To me, the way I dress is a form of a diary. I always remember what I wore when something important happened. My memories are connected to my outfits, in a meaningful way. Not a lot of women understand how to do that, though. Can you give some tips/tricks?

Bea: First of all, make an effort. Whether you are going to 7Eleven or a meeting, people will treat you differently if you wear an amazing outfit. And you will end up feeling amazing! It’s really up to you how you will be perceived and how your day is going to be. And why not use social media to create your own diary of your moods and outfits? I’ve gotten into that habit myself, since at one point I said to myself: ‘Hey if I’m gonna get all dressed up, I might as well share it with the world! Another great tip: If you don’t have much time, just put on some red lipstick. It doesn’t matter what I’m wearing, when I have on red lipstick I feel great. Also, make sure you have a great pair of shoes and some good sunglasses. They can make any outfit work. Often, I will base an outfit just on my shoes.

Marlies: Me too! I either base my outfits on my shoes or my lingerie! What role does lingerie plays in your work?

Bea: Madonna taught me: If you’re not wearing the right undergarments, it can ruin your whole outfit. Lingerie is the base of everything. Also, knowing that you are wearing something sexy underneath your clothes provides an extra power source. And with that, comes confidence.

Marlies: I call that the ‘loaded gun effect’! Because I truly believe that wearing the right lingerie can give you the confidence to follow your dreams. It’s the reason I design: to help women fulfill your potential.

Bea: You know what I also love about your lingerie? That it becomes part of the outfit. Your bras for example, you don’t want to hide them! You want to show them off!

Marlies: Thank you! That’s the moment innerwear becomes outerwear! I feel that we’re very similar in what we want to give women through our work. Like, there is a shaman-like quality to all your projects where women like Gaga, Beyoncé and Madonna get these super-hero qualities.

Bea: Yes! I’m all about glorifying women. I look at a person and their attributes and set out to make them the best version of themselves. My job? To make women strong, sexy and unstoppable. And yes, our sexuality is a very powerful tool. I’m not shy about using it!

Marlies: To me, that’s what Feminine Feminism is all about! Is that also why you call yourself a ‘fashion activist’?

 Bea: That’s right. Also, after I turned 40, I began to feel that the fashion industry was quite shallow. And I realized that if you’re controlled by what other people might think about you, you are suppressing you own capabilities. So I started supporting young, upcoming designers by giving them a platform. I’m fighting to keep fashion alive!

Marlies: So, you say that that is your mission in life?

Bea: Ultimately, my mission in life is to make a difference. And to inspire people to think outside the box.

Marlies: Which style collaboration are you most proud of?

Bea: The Madonna Superbowl halftime show, the biggest project I’ve ever done. Quite literally; I dressed 400 people including Madonna! I think a lot of people can’t even imagine what it actually takes to create a show like that. But creatively I was able to show all my potential to the largest audience I will ever have. So yeah, hands down my favorite collaboration!

Marlies: Why do you work so well with Madonna?

Bea: She pushes you to be a better version of yourself. Her work ethic is unbelievable and when you are with her, you want to live up to that. So you actually become better at your job just by being in her presence.

Marlies: I think it’s great that we have bigger-than-life examples now like Madonna and Beyonce to inspire women to reach the top. I know you have adorable twin daughters. What is it that you want to pass on to the next generation of women?

Bea: For my two girls, I want to set a precedent that you can be anything you want in the world. So it was an extra big loss that we didn’t get a female president! Because the sad truth is that women are still constantly judged: we are too sexy, too old, too loud etc.

You know, for the past 25 years people I have been asked in interviews: What is the secret of your success? And I always say:  I worked HARD! I think the generation after us should realize that as women we need to work hard, even harder than men because we have to overcome sexist obstacles. That’s why it’s so important that strong women support other strong women!

Marlies: Thank you, Bea. I’m with you!

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