Stylist & Artist Angeles Almuna Has Never Let Anyone Dictate What She Should Wear
Stylist, dancer, and artist Angeles Almuna won't just wear something because it's currently on trend — she wears what speaks to her. The 48-year-old Miami-based creative and fashion icon has always liked to mix together pieces, colors, and fabrics to create looks that are uniquely her own. "Always, clothing was part of my expression," she tells The Zoe Report. "I never thought I had to follow what is trendy, or people who say, 'Oh yeah, you have to wear black or you have to wear red.' No, I always wanted to be an original."
Almuna's personal style is eclectic and playful, representing her vibrant personality and relentless fight against breast cancer, which she has openly documented on her blog and across social media. Almuna tells TZR this is her first year in remission, but says her work is far from over. In 2016, she helped found Fashion Fights Cancer, a Miami-based fundraising event that supports research and honors cancer survivors.
What item in your closet is your most favorite?
I have one bustier and it's from one of my favorite designers, Josep Font who used to be the designer from Delpozo. It's white, it's like a big orchid, and it's one of my precious pieces in my wardrobe.
I remember I'd look at my mother and be like, 'Wow, Mom. You look stunning.' And I was like, 'I want to be like you when I am your age.'
Can you recall a very iconic outfit that you've worn?
I remember I wore a very specific dress when I went to the White House for the Christmas dinner with Michelle Obama and President Obama. It was gold with some fur on the sleeves, and I was at that time with cancer, and I was worrying my children by wearing these beautiful Jimmy Choo shoes. That one was a great moment because I was in pain, I was not in my best moment in my life, but I felt like I was literally a princess.
How did you first become interested in style and fashion?
Definitely when I was a child. My mom was Spanish, but we lived in Chile, Switzerland, all over. She would wear designers like Paco Rabanne. I remember I'd look at my mother and be like, "Wow, Mom. You look stunning." And I was like, "I want to be like you when I am your age." She was always buying these magazines, and sometimes I'd look and I'd notice photos of Chanel and Valentino. I thought one day I wanted to be in a show. When I came here to Miami and I started doing styling and working in the fashion industry, I opened my blog, and people started taking photos of me for my style. And I was like, wow! It's part of my dream.
What is your daily uniform and how has it changed over time?
I love trousers with a nice sweater or blazer. When it's hot here in Miami, I wear kind of like a very flowy skirt with a nice blouse, and also a blazer because I'm working in a museum 70 percent of the time, and it's always cold.
Lingerie is a problem when you have breast cancer, and you have all the surgeries and you have your prosthetics, because everything is very sensitive and you need a simple bra.
Tell me a little bit about how your experience with breast cancer and a mastectomy influenced your personal style and the importance of maintaining your identity. How did style play a role in your process of coping with your diagnosis and your treatment, if at all?
I remember the first day that I didn't have hair, I looked in the mirror and I was like, "Oh my god, I look like an alien." I tried to embrace this moment; I found my turban, I love broaches so I put it on, I put on my beautiful dress, maybe with sneakers — whatever I felt comfortable in, but also me.
When I was in chemotherapy every day, it's very depressing there. You see all different people with cancer, it's not just breast cancer. It's brain cancer, it's lung cancer, and everyone is in the same thing, the same mood. I wanted to be always nice when someone saw me, sometimes with a little bit of blush or lipstick. Always I want to smile, because when you have that energy, people change. People look at you and say, "Look at you, you look nice! You look better." And I say yes, that is from my inside to my out. So that's one thing I tried to do every day for two years.
After the surgery, I was like wow, I don't know what I'm going to wear now, how to be sexy again, how to feel beautiful again. And in my case, I'm still playing with that. But the first [step] is to learn to be more open and accept, accept. Accept — it is a very good word in this moment.
Do you think the fashion industry could offer more for people going through an experience like that? Do you feel like there's an area in fashion that's lacking? A product that you would love to see or a category of clothing that you feel doesn't really exist in a robust way?
There are a couple of brands right now that focus on lingerie for breast cancer sufferers that I applaud. Lingerie is a problem when you have breast cancer, and you have all the surgeries and you have your prosthetics, because everything is very sensitive and you need a simple bra. I wish a luxury intimates brand would do something very, very sexy just for those women. That would be fantastic. Maybe a collection just for those women who have been struggling with illnesses, with breast cancer, and also maybe part of that money goes to a foundation, a cancer foundation, or whatever foundation they want.
Which item do you own that instantly makes you feel more confident when you put it on?
A beautiful shoe. I have a pair of Miu Miu blue and a green shoes with a funky chunky heel, and I love them. I would wear them to chemotherapy. I remember being in the chair, and I saw my shoes and I said, this is the best part. I have beautiful shoes in chemo, and it was making me happy. And even today when I go to see my doctors, always I'm going with something beautiful — maybe a pair of sunglasses or shoes, or maybe a little bag and that makes me happy and confident.
I remember Whoopi Goldberg came that day and said to me, 'You're an angel, who are you?' And I said to her, 'Well, I'm Angeles,' and she was so surprised.
Tell me a little bit about your turbans and where you were finding them from, and what about wearing those made you feel so great?
When I noticed that my hair was falling apart and it was so painful, I said I need a scarf, I need something. I went to H&M because I needed to pick something that was not expensive, and I could have many of them. So I went there, and I found this huge scarf, in cotton, and I bought four of them first in black, white, gray, and pink. I came home and I start playing, but I saw something was missing, so I found one of my broaches. I sometimes put earrings, small earrings, in the front part, and I looked at myself after and was like, "Wow, this is me, perfect."
What words do you think define your style?
Unique and sophisticated, with a touch of creativity.
How has style played a role in your career? I know that you said you're now working at a museum and that you've worked as a stylist. How is the way that you've dressed opened doors for you with your career or played a role in your career?
Well definitely my style has opened doors, and put my career on another level, I have to say. Sometimes it sounds a little bit superficial, but this is me. I love fashion. My style was always very me, but people, they recognize me for that. When I worked for Zac Posen we had a runway show and I was a house photographer. I remember Whoopi Goldberg came that day and said to me, "You're an angel, who are you?" And I said to her, "Well, I'm Angeles," and she was so surprised.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.