Koos Van Den Akker, longtime CFDA Member and industry friend, died Tuesday afternoon at Mt. Sinai Beth Israel Hospital in New York. The cause was cancer. The designer was 75.
Koos lived and worked in America where he was embraced by fashion houses such as Marc Jacobs and Balenciaga. Van den Akker was most famous as the man behind the Bill Cosby’s sweaters on The Cosby Show.
A native of the Hague, Holland, Van Den Akker was a design prodigy from an early age with an impressive portfolio. At 15, he bypassed the 18-year age requirement to attend the Royal Academy of Art, where he studied fashion until he was 18. After graduating, he apprenticed at Christian Dior for several years, and in 1968 moved to New York, where he launched his own label. Van Den Akker is best known for designing the “Bill Cosby Sweater” featuring an iconic collage of whimsical novelty patterns. He also paved the way for designers to venture into home shopping by selling his designs on QVC in 1998 under the Koos of Course name.
Designer Christian Francis Roth worked as an intern for Van Den Akker while at high school, a stint that turned into a full time job after graduating in the late 1980s. “When I started designing actual garments for his store, he said, ‘I wouldn’t mind seeing what you would do for your own label,’” Roth recalled. “He would say, “I am going to teach you how to cut and how to sew, and if it all goes to hell, you don’t need anything but your sewing machine to survive.
“Watching Koos sew a dress was like watching an abstract expressionist painter work on a canvas,” Roth added. “He would simply select fabrics and start cutting and sewing. You never really knew what was going to happen until it was finished.”
Posted at – 1am on 5th February 2015