Growing up, celebrity stylist and costume designer B. Akerlund never had a mentor. “That really taught me to be as involved as possible on every project I have worked on, soaking up information and experience from the people that I have been so blessed to work alongside,” says Akerlund, whose clients include Lady Gaga, Beyoncé and Madonna. So when Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles tapped Akerlund to participate in the mentorship program for its annual fashion show, now in its 39th year, it was an opportunity she couldn’t refuse. Akerlund joined the ranks of industry heavyweights — including Ruth E. Carter, David Meister and Jonathan Simkhai — who helped guide the work of students from the classes of 2020 and 2021. The results will be displayed online in Virtually Cool, a livestreamed show and fundraiser open to the public and taking place on May 8 at 7 p.m. PT.
The celebration benefits first-generation students, who make up 30% of the Otis College population. “The fashion students were exceptional, supported and enthusiastic. I’m sure we will see more from them as they grow to take their place as contributors to the world of fashion, art and beauty,” says Oscar-winning costume designer Carter, who worked with students to create eveningwear inspired by African tribal clothing. Akerlund’s most important piece of advice for her mentees: “Don’t get lost in what everyone else is doing. Believe in yourself and your own creativity, and most importantly follow your inner intuition.” give.otis.edu/benefit2021