Angeles Almuna isn't your typical Miami fashion blogger.
"I've never really had the feeling like I'm part of the Miami fashion environment," she says with a laugh. Rather than pandering to the trashy-and-flashy style set that's come to epitomize Miami fashion culture, the Chilean-born, Miami-based fashionista opts for a more polished look, mixing whimsical, high-end elements with everyday basics and vintage finds. She shares her fashion musings on angelesalmuna.com, a blog she started in 2008 as a platform for her handmade accessories line and effortless style.
But it's not just a keen sense of style that separates Almuna from the bunch. In June 2015, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, which turned her world upside down — but didn't stop her. Courageously facing the Big C with grace, Almuna refuses to be defeated. "I haven't stopped working, and I haven’t stopped trying to look my best," she says.
Almuna's fashion journey began when she was a child in Santiago, Chile. Her Spanish mother had impeccable taste, and she instilled in Almuna a thirst for originality and expression in her choice of clothes. "She had an amazing style," Almuna recalls, nothing that sophistication was a credo her mother swore by when getting dressed for the day.
Her Spanish roots took Almuna straight to flamenco, a dance she started studying when she was only five years old. In college at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, she studied visual art and specialized in painting, but was ultimately drawn back to the stage. "I missed the theater, the dance and the costumes," Almuna says. In 2004, Almuna decided to go after a career as a professional dancer, and she made the leap to Miami, a city she thought had the perfect mix of contemporary cool and up-and-coming cultural panache. "I hated it when I first got here," she admits. "It was so humid, and everything was so far away. But after a year I found my way, and now it's home."
Once she arrived in Miami, she joined the Miami City Ballet and spent a year there before opting for something a little less traditional. "I wanted to get back to flamenco and learn something and just do something a little more contemporary," she says, so she joined Ray Sullivan's Miami Contemporary Dance Company, where her seven-year stint included a position as the company's director.
At MCDC, Almuna's fashion career began to blossom. "I spent a lot of time working with costuming and styling — I just realized I had an eye for it, and a passion," Almuna recalls. Tired of the same-old boring accessories she found in stores time and again, Almuna started designing her own: chiffon brooches in ethereal floral shapes and flamenco-inspired jewelry. "People would stop me in the streets and ask me who I was wearing, and I would reply, 'It's me!' So I decided to try and start selling them." When she got the attention of an editor at Elle Spain, she knew she was onto something.
She launched her blog in 2008, and unlike many Miami fashion blogs — which often focus on fast-fashion brands and uninspired Miami style — Almuna was doing something different. For her, fashion was art. "I try and focus on pieces that look like they could belong in a museum in 10 or 15 years," Almuna says, gushing over her love of Spanish couturier Delpozo and Muiccia Prada's Miu Miu.
After she was diagnosed with cancer, Almuna started wearing studded turbans she fashioned out of scarves to hide her hair loss. "It's funny because it's very me," she says. "People wouldn't even necessarily guess that I'm doing it because I'm sick." Determined not to let illness affect her dress, Almuna continues to tackle fashion with the same fervor. "The last thing you want to do is get dressed up, because your body is changing and you feel like you look like an alien," she says. "But at the same time I think, I'm going to the hospital every week, and I haven’t stopped working, so I have to figure out how to look my best. That kind of thing gives me the strength and motivation to fight."
Today, Almuna splits her time between blogging and styling, working as a stylist on luxury mags like Brickell Magazine and Miami Modern Luxury. Defining her style as "between classic and avant-garde," Almuna likes to play with vintage, high fashion and basics. Below, she shares her fashion secrets, styling tips and favorite places to look her best in Miami.
Who are some Miami designers we need to know?
Valeria Krasavina is an up-and-coming designer whose pieces I just love. And though he's not technically from Miami, Oscar Carvallo just opened a boutique here in Miami, and I think he's really going to do well. Lots of handmade, detailing, brocade. If you find the right place to wear it you'll feel like a princess.
What are some of your favorite places to shop?
I love Vibe Consignment at Ironside and Flamingo Plaza for vintage. Beach Boutique on Purdy Avenue is a go-to because she always carries Alice McCall. I love Style Mafia because it's so unique for Miami, and then online I scour Yoox and The Outnet for high-end finds.
What's your go-to styling trick?
Always think about the weather! It's hot here in Miami. You don't want to be caught wearing a dress that's going to make you sweaty. Avoid nylon and polyester materials.
What do you do when something is missing?
If the weather is cool I always wear a blazer; that's the final touch for me. But I also love accessories and brooches. I wear them everywhere — in my turban, on my jacket, on my neckline. I usually wear one of my own!
Where do you go to see and be seen in Miami?