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Suggest a Designer for the Spotlight

We don't always get to meet the Designer Spotlight subjects in person, but I had a great time visiting Koos van den Akker at work in his New York City studio. His interview is in Threads no. 154. Comment and tell us about designers you'd like to see featured in upcoming issues. 

Threads no. 152 saw the launch of a new feature – Designer Spotlight. Each issue since, we’ve talked with a designer who really sews. In a short question-and-answer format, it’s amazing to see how each subject has had a unique perspective to share with readers. We want to know whom you want to hear from in upcoming issues. 

The first interviewee was former “Project Runway” competitor (and past Threads author) Pamela Ptak, who spoke about her experiences on the fashion design show, and her architecture- and nature-inspired designs.

Popular pattern designer, sewing instructor, and author Marcy Tilton was the focus in issue no. 153. Marcy talked about her fabric-shopping trips to Paris, creating patterns for real women, and more.

I’m particularly excited about the Designer Spotlight in issue no. 154, because I’ve long admired his work and it was a real treat to visit his New York City studio. Koos van den Akker is an artist at mixing fabrics and his career has spanned more than 40 years in the United States, but he got his start in Holland and the Paris couture salon of Christian Dior. His fantastic, multi-hued sweaters worn by Bill Cosby on “The Cosby Show” brought Koos national attention and he continues to work and inspire other designers with his collage techniques.

We already have some exciting interviews planned for upcoming issues, but we’d love to know your thoughts about whom you want to hear from. Tell us about the designers and pattern creators that inspire you – and that have a real understanding of sewing techniques. Who do you want to learn about – and what would you love to know about his or her techniques?    


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  1. TJSEWS | | #1

    How about Isabel Toledo - I saw an exhibit of her work at FIT and I know for sure that she sews. She is truly a talented and masterful designer.

    Elie Tahari? However, I don't know whether he sews. But his clothing line is very beautiful and high quality.

    Narciso Rodriguez - He is known for his minimalist designs.

  2. User avater
    Distinctive | | #2

    I would love to see you feature Bonnie Glass of Glen Williams, Ontario, CANADA. She is a career fibre artist and creator of fabulous wearable art. She is also the creative energy behind the non-profit Just for Us Originals The Wearable Arts Show that has been running since 2007 at the Mississauga Living Arts Centre. The website is http://www.just-for-us.biz. Her website is http://www.bonnieglass.com.

  3. zybet | | #3

    Hi! Elie Tahari doesn't sew. This days if you want to meet designer who realy sews you probably will have to go to Italy , Poland or France...Very few designers in US sews at all. I'am ineresting about Vera Wang and Andy the Anh- Canadian one.

  4. silkroseclare | | #4

    I would be happy to help in this should you not find someone as I am a Designer and Dressmaker of many years experience.
    Please look at my website to see if I qualify for this and if I can be of help to you. http://www.silkrose.co.uk

    I am showing a collection of Wedding Dresses at a Fashion Show in London on March 2oth 2011.


    Silk Rose

  5. maggiekintex | | #5

    Chloe Dao would be interesting. Have been to her shop, her lines are very simple but very elegant and classy.

  6. TJSEWS | | #6

    I disagree that very few American designers do not sew. And by the way, Vera Wang is an American designer based in New York City. She was born and raised in the US.

    While there may very well be American designers who do not sew, there are also those who do.

    The show Project Runway is all about designers competing to establish their own fashion line and in the competition they sew all of their own garments. Thus far, there have been 8 seasons of Project Runway with mostly American designers who sew - where did they all come from?

    The design schools in the US have sewing as a requirement in their curriculum. I know because I attend the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City at night.

    I believe people may get the impression that American designers don't sew because once a designer becomes successful in the mass market, they no longer sew. They must then run a business. They still are very much involved with the designs on a conceptual / visual level, but then they must hire patternmakers and technical designers and send their designs out to factories for production. This is necessary because they receive orders for thousands of garments and it is no longer practical for them to sew and they no longer have the time. I also know this because I work for a major women's apparel retailer based in the US.

  7. TJSEWS | | #7

    Some more suggestions:
    Jason Wu - he created Michelle Obama's gown for the Inaugural ball.

  8. TJSEWS | | #8

    Some more suggestions:
    Jason Wu - he created Michelle Obama's gown for the Inaugural ball.

  9. TJSEWS | | #9

    Christian Siriano - he was one of the winners of Project Runway and from what I can tell, has been very successful. He has shown several times in NY Fashion Week and his designs have received very positive reviews in WWD.

  10. User avater
    TessaBear | | #10

    How about Vera Wang?

  11. User avater
    mtwocats | | #11

    I think that you should interview Connie Crawford. She has done more for American women than any other designer.

  12. joen_green | | #12

    Love to see Christian Siriano, Nanette Lepore, or Kate Spade would love to read how they design and decide on embellishments.

  13. zybet | | #13

    The Project Runway is for those mass of people who try to establish their line not for high profile designers like:Carolina Herrera,Ralph Lauren, Rachel Roy,Diane von Furnstenberg, Elie Tahari,Michael Kors and many , many more...who admitted that they don't know how to sew and many times[not always] didn't study design at all.
    For example; Jenni Kajne who wanted learn sewing, went to Italy to get her skils at "Zegna". Besides Fashion Institude of Technology in Ney York, where are more good sewing shools in US? I"am talking "serious" ones?!

  14. sewingfanforever | | #14

    I love the new articles about designers! I would love to see articles about Seth Aaron from Project Runway. He has an imaginative and youthful style sense. Donna Karan has always been a favorite of mine, and I have been creating her designs via Vogue Patterns for years. She really knows what looks good on a woman. I have heard that Gwen Stefani used to sew her own outfits when she started out with No Doubt, and continues to show a wonderful style sense with L.A.M.B.

  15. SewingSteph | | #16

    Ralph Rucci or most of the designers that also do designs for the pattern companies would be great. I am curious how they adjust designs for the pattern companies. I am not a fan of Koos at all or a lot of what goes as "Artwear" though there are some pieces that are beautiful.

  16. User avater
    MeredithP | | #17

    I second the request for Isabel Toledo. She an exceptional designer and artist AND she holds the construction part of design (which we are all interested in) in high esteem.

  17. Ann1 | | #18

    I like to see an in-depth interview with your own Kenneth D. King!

  18. User avater
    Soli | | #19

    With all the Royal Wedding stuff in the news, I'm feeling nostalgic. I'd like to see an interview with Elizabeth Emanuel who created Princess Di's wedding dress. The work that she's done on her own since she launched Art of Being is every bit as complex and over the top baroque princess fantasy. Paula Abdul has worn some of her clothes on Idol.

  19. variadee | | #20

    I completely agree with the person who said, " I think that you should interview Connie Crawford. She has done more for American women than any other designer."

    She is fabulous and certainly knows how to sew. Her patterns are wonderful and understandable.

    She also has a wonderful attitude.

  20. Bethechange | | #21

    I'd love to see an article with Shingo Sato. He combines draping and flat pattern making for a simple method for creating very complex designs. Very cool stuff.

  21. Size7N | | #22


    I've been watching "Say Yes to the Dress" and I absolutely love Pnina Tornai's wedding gowns. I'd like to learn how she got her start, how she designs the dresses, cuts and sews them to absolute perfection! They are stunning, and I am quite fascinated on how they are stitched together. There are tiers and I guess you call them "pull-ups", the drapey style on the skirt, beading, tulle, what kind of fabric she uses; at the time of the show (2007-2010) she was on staff at Kleinfeld's in NYC, and she would stop by once a month to meet with the owners and sometimes the brides themselves. Thanks!

  22. User avater
    krawz | | #23

    I agree with the person who voted for an in-depth interview with Kenneth King. Christian Siriano is my favorite designer from all the seasons of Project Runway. And I think Connie Crawford is incredible designing for women plus size.

  23. LoveSewing64 | | #24


    I would like to see you interview Alaysha Hargrave. She's only 15 and has a new collection! Great young designer! You should interview her! She's awesome! Real great!Let me know if you want to contact her!

  24. tailorblue | | #25

    Michael Kors was once interviewed for threads and it would be nice to hear about him again
    Also in no particular order
    Vivienne Westwood
    Rouland Mouret
    Ralph Rucci ( again)
    Stefano Pilati ( YSL)
    Albert Elbaz (Lanvin)
    Jean Paul Gauletier
    and of course Karl Lagerfeld

  25. MadameHardy | | #26

    Christian Siriano, agreed, but also jacket-maker Supreme Seth-Aaron Henderson.

    Apart from that, why don't you do "interviews" with famous dead designers -- cobble together an interview with Frederic Worth, or Paul Poiret, or Mme. Gres from interviews they gave when still alive? You could illustrate with some museum-quality dresses.

  26. User avater
    orsinimedici1951 | | #27

    I am an apparel designer, milliner, patternmaker, and teacher with more than 35 years in the business. I have owned a womens' boutique in the college district of Providence, RI, and have done custom dressmaking for more than 20 years for some of the most prestigious clientele, and have also designed many shows for the stage. My two most notable clients were Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, Paula Vogel, and Joan Countryman, who helped Oprah set up the Leadership Academy for Girls in S. Africa!! At the moment I teach fashion related courses in my studio to adults, college students, children, and professionals. I also design and sell my work in my online retail shop on ETSY.com. My work was recently featured on ETSY's front page blog, The Storque. I'd LOVE to do an interview with Threads about my lifelong passion (fashion), and my rich and diverse career!!!

  27. MsTeddo | | #28

    William Ivey Long would be my choice. He is a great designer whose "Runway" is Broadway and who has a million fun stories. When he wanted to learn about designing for television, he designed the Miss Universe/USA/Teen Pageants. Lots of craziness and drama with beautiful women.

  28. atelier27 | | #29

    I want to thank you for all the articles you have printed about the work of Georgio Armani. Each article has taught me something I needed to know about specific aspects of garment construction. I share an interest in several of the designers mentioned by others: Isabel Toledo, Nanette Lepore, Jason Wu.

  29. cla2516 | | #30

    I'd love to see an in depth interview with George Simonton...designs are classic and he definitely sews!

    Also wish Vogue would re-issue the DVF wrap dress pattern.

  30. amsuheru1 | | #31

    Just yesterday, I experienced the Japan Fashion Now exhibition at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York City (http://www3.fitnyc.edu/museum/Japan_Fashion_Now/1980s.html) &
    Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons is ne plus ultra!!!


  31. User avater
    jocarito | | #32

    I know this not what you are asking, but I think it would be interesting to do a series on all 8 season project runway finalists, not just the winner, to see how they have continued after the show.
    From the comments, there are a few (very few) who seem to have achieved national acclaim. What has happened to the others? I would especially enjoy seeing the season 8 finalist because there was so much controversy and disagreement with the way it ended.
    As to designers, there are so many out there with so many styles. I have no suggestions as to designers but would love to see all types of designers highlighting their particular style and to understand what has inspired them, how they have evolved through the years, and to what type of client they cater.

  32. HollyP | | #33

    I recently read the New Yorker article about Linda Claire Meisner and Elaine's dress collection. I'd love to read more about her work.

    I'd also like to see more designers featured who are not Caucasian.

  33. mesewlot | | #34

    I would like to see interviews on new and rising designers such as Paco Peralto~ who designs and constructs with such percision and beauty. Also, Mimi Goodwin~ who just recently showcased her first fashion show of her very feminine line for women.
    I would, also, like to see an interview on the desigm team of the Vogue pattern company.

  34. zybet | | #35

    I'am another person who ask for Isabela Toledo and Reem Acra of NY. Thanks.

  35. 416 | | #36

    I would like to learn more about Claire Shaeffer. I own two of her books. Aside from learning how to draft a pattern for a tie collar, I have learned to make simple embellishments to upgrade garments I already have in my closet. I have used her double binding method many times just to change the neckline look of a garment. I hope to see an interview with her in Threads in the future.

  36. deirdrew | | #37

    I love the designer spotlight series. I would love to see Marc Jacobs or Isaac Mizrahi featured.

  37. deirdrew | | #38

    At the end of the last Dior show recently in Paris, the workroom staff was featured. They are the ones to highlight when designers do not sew.

  38. Hampton300 | | #39

    I loved the piece on Koos. I somehow discovered him quite a few years ago and have a book on his designing ideas. I like his free-wheeling style. Don't have any other suggestions. Don't normally follow designers.

  39. sewcietymaven | | #40

    Ralph Lauren. I love his clothes. He is a master of taking inspiration from his surroundings and translating it into his designs.

  40. anne_casey | | #41

    I would love to see more designers who aren't American; for example Martin Grant, an Australian who has worked for many years in Paris. His work is beautiful, subtle, and timeless - and demonstrates his high level of skill.

  41. User avater
    2tango | | #42

    Did I say Isabelle Toledo, if so Ill say it again and maybe someone from Canada Liday Biday, Joeffer Caoc, Paul Hardy

  42. babysparkle | | #43

    Valentino, or the ladies who sewed for him.

  43. JAFELT | | #44

    There is a Portland designer Adam Arnold that is not only a genius designer, but has ALWAYS patterned,sewn and constructed his own creations. This guy is completely ahead of the curve- Project Runway has called him at least 3 times, and he has refused to sign on ...for obvious reasons.

    He is an inspiration and an icon, and deserves the spotlight.

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