"In the dynamic world of fashion, kindness holds the key to establishing genuine connections and sparking fresh dialogues."
The GAHSP Digital Cover of VOLUME VII, Issue 3: EMPATHY documents Bea Åkerlund as she steps into three fictional characters, and explores the notions of Kindness, Respect and Authenticity. The following conversation unfolds these aspects further in the context of fashion, activism and relationships in the creative industry, as well as Åkerlund’s journey in Stockholm.
Stockholm, Sweden. 3rd of July, 2023.
Disclaimer: this cover is a digital experience bound to real-time events and relationships, therefore cannot be replicated.
Fashion Activist, Creative Director, Costume Designer, Pawtographer, Mom
I'm excited to share my unique perspective, seeking to inspire others and explore the boundless possibilities that lie ahead, driven by an unwavering commitment to pushing creative boundaries and making a meaningful impact in the world.
From the Super Bowl stages to music video extravaganzas, B. Åkerlund's mastery in costume design has left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment, collaborating with some of the biggest names in the industry.Including Beyoncé, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Britney Spears, to name a few.
What are 3 values that you wish to mediate through your work?
Creativity and Artistic Expression
Through my work, I aim to nurture the value of creativity and artistic expression. My costume designs encourage individuals to embrace their uniqueness and use their creative talents to convey powerful messages and emotions through fashion .
Empowerment and Self-Confidence
I believe that my costumes have a transformative effect, empowering performers and individuals alike to step into their roles with confidence and conviction. By creating outfits that exude strength and authenticity, I strive to foster a sense of self-assurance and encourage people to embrace their identities unapologetically.
Collaboration and Unity
Collaboration is at the core of my work. As I design costumes for A-list celebrities and work on different projects, I witness the beauty of teamwork and the power of unity. Bringing together various talents from around the world and their perspectives, together we create something extraordinary and iconic. It takes a village to do what I do ...
What are 3 relevant problems that you wish to solve through your work?
Representation and Inclusivity
One relevant problem I aim to address through my work is the lack of representation and inclusivity in the entertainment industry. I strive to design costumes that celebrate diversity and reflect the true essence of performers, regardless of their background, ethnicity, gender or body type. By doing so, I hope to contribute to a more inclusive and equitable space in the world of entertainment.
Sustainability and Ethical Practices
Another challenge I wish to tackle is the environmental impact the fashion industry has on our planet. I am committed to exploring sustainable materials and ethical practices in my costume design. By promoting responsible choices, reducing waste, and supporting eco-friendly alternatives, I aspire to make a positive impact and set a precedent for a more sustainable future in this creative world.
Challenging Gender Norms
Through my work, I seek to challenge traditional gender norms and expectations in costume design. I believe that clothing should be a medium of self-expression without restrictive boundaries. By creating gender-fluid and boundary-pushing designs, I hope to encourage a more open and accepting society, where individuals feel free to embrace their authentic selves without judgment or limitation.
How can kindness help connect with each other and open up new conversations in fashion? Do you consider kindness as a form of self-expression, or more of a universal language?
In the dynamic world of fashion, kindness holds the key to establishing genuine connections and sparking fresh dialogues. By embracing kindness as a guiding principle, we cultivate an atmosphere of mutual appreciation and support, enabling us to collaborate with others in a more meaningful manner. My guiding principle is to treat everyone I encounter with kindness and respect because you never know whose paths will cross again on life's journey. Being considerate and compassionate towards others is essential, as the same people we encounter on our way up might become significant influences on our way down. To me, kindness is not only a form of self-expression, but also a universal language that transcends cultural and societal boundaries, touching the hearts of individuals from all walks of life.
What is the correlation between activism and respect? As the nature of activism can often be thought-provoking and rebellious, what is the best practice that you believe in?
Activism and respect are intricately connected, as activism often seeks to challenge the status quo and bring attention to important issues. In my view, the best practice is to channel the passion and energy of activism into communication, engagement and to follow your heart. In today's context, respect is earned through a combination of experiences, hits, likes and followers. Challenging the traditional perception of hard work and paying your dues, the focus now lies on cultivating a repertoire and being innovative and having thousands of followers. People are not interested in time and effort put in, but rather in a popularity contest.
How did Swedish culture shape your perspective on style and authenticity, and how did it evolve after moving to LA? How do you realize your personal vision when working with some of the most distinct characters from the industry, such as Madonna, Beyonce, Rihanna, Katy Perry, and many more?
Sweden's simplicity beckoned me to explore the vibrant landscape of LA, where I embarked on a transformative journey of self-discovery. The cultural contrast between the two places shaped my perspective on style and authenticity, combining Swedish minimalism with LA's uninhibited creativity. When collaborating with iconic figures such as Madonna, Beyonce, Rihanna, Katy Perry, and others, my personal vision becomes a dance of understanding and creative synthesis. I strive to harmonize their distinctive characters with my artistic expression, creating costumes that authentically reflect their essence and leave an indelible mark on the world stage.
How can Creatives improve their impact on the world by creating intentionally?
Creatives can significantly enhance their impact on the world by creating intentionally. By purposefully aligning their artistic expressions with values that promote positive change, inclusivity and sustainability, creatives can use their work as a powerful platform to inspire, educate and advocate for a better world. Intentional creations have the potential to spark conversations, influence perceptions and drive collective action, fostering a global community committed to making a meaningful difference.
How can Creative Leaders show a more realistic example of trial and error?
Creative Leaders can exemplify a more realistic approach to trial and error by reframing mistakes as stepping stones to success. By sharing stories of challenges they encountered along their creative journey and how they used setbacks to refine their ideas, they normalize the iterative nature of creativity. Encouraging their team to embrace experimentation and learn from failures, Creative Leaders foster a culture that embraces innovation and values the growth that arises from trial and error.
How can we become more transparent with each other?
By fostering transparency and creating a safe space for honest communication, sharing information openly, acknowledging mistakes, practicing active listening, setting clear expectations, seeking feedback and leading by example.
Creative Leaders to look up to:
I look up to several creative leaders who have profoundly influenced my journey. My husband, Jonas Åkerlund, has been my guiding force, pushing me to grow both personally and creatively. Madonna's exceptional mentorship has been invaluable, and Steven Klein's vision and artistry have been a constant inspiration. Patti Wilson's flawless work serves as a reminder of the heights I strive to achieve in my own creative pursuits.
Volume VII, Issue EMPATHY.
Cover Stars: @bcompleted
Postproduction Editing: @_serik_serik
Written and Edited by Julia Horvath
Image Courtesy of GAHSP MEDIA