Katya Akuma (born 4 November 1985) is a Russian American creative director, designer, and artist. She is the founder of the Council for Fashion and Social Change (CFSC), a non-profit organization that works on revolutionizing society via the fashion and design industry. Akuma is the co-founder of 4TO4U, a photography and digital imaging agency.
Akuma has over 18 years of experience in the fashion industry and has worked with several prolific clients including, Escada, Celine, Louis Vuitton, YSL, Alexander Wang,Brioni, Ermenegildo Zegna and Neiman Marcus. She has worked on several global beauty campaigns for brands such as Acqua di Parma, Kilian parfumes, Fredric Malle, Carolina Herrera, LaMer, and LeLabo. Akuma has also partnered on social change campaigns with Uber, Samsonite, Amazon, Billboard Music Awards, and Citizens of Humanity.
Akuma is known for her unique approach as an interdisciplinary artist. Her work is centered on exploring fashion as a material and cultural practice with an emphasis on identity and individualization, sustainability, and the relation of fashion and time. She has been featured in several media outlets including, Elle, HuffPost, Fashionista, LA Tabloid, The NYC Times, Social Insider, The Cut and others.
Early life and education
Akuma enrolled at the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland in 2006, where she pursued a Bachelor of Arts. After her graduation in 2009, she was selected for an Environmental Art Fellowship at the TAIK - University of Art and Design in Helsinki.
In 2010, Akuma completed a fellowship at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design, in Prague, Czech Republic.
In 2015, Akuma pursued her Master’s degree in Fashion at Parsons, The New School for Design. During her time at Parsons she was a recipient of The Parsons Design Fellowship, a competitive program launched by Donna Karan’s Urban Zen. During the fellowship
Akuma worked in The Design, Organization, Training Center (D.O.T.) in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where as a fellow her main goal was to help bridge Haiti’s traditional artisan techniques with the modernity and design innovation needed to succeed in today’s global marketplace.
In 2005, Akuma co-founded 4TO4U, a full-service photography and digital agency, with her father, Artur Koff, a leading fashion photographer. Akuma is the fashion director and editor-in-chief of this company. 4TO4U photographs over 20 events per week and has distributions across multiple magazines. 4TO4U’s work has been featured in several national and international publications such as Harper's Bazaar, Grazia International, Vogue Mexico & Latin America, Glamour, W Story, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Hello Russia, Socialite, World Fashion Channel TV, Interview Magazine, and others. 4TO4U also offers a Posing Academy, which is led by the model Sara Struharova and Koff.
In 2016, Akuma founded the Council for Fashion and Social Change (CFSC), a nonprofit organization that aims to inspire the fashion industry by engaging in projects that are designed to have a positive social impact on communities. CFSC promotes sustainability through a collaborative ecosystem and focuses on creating impact through design. The NGO facilitates meaningful opportunities for both established and start-up companies working in the fashion industry.
CFSC provides free services when collaborating with fashion companies and design graduates. The collaborations are based on social motives and are focused on supporting social change for charities and non-profit initiatives. 100% of proceeds raised through these collaborations are directed to the charities. Some of the non-profits and charities in partnership with CFSC are The Y (National Office), Beauty for Freedom, Farm Aid, Population Council, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and Pathfinder International.
In 2019, Akuma was a fashion director of MoMA PopRally x The Bronx. The appointment to the role comes after her track record in connecting talent through the Council for Fashion and Social Change (CFSC).
Akuma is presently an Artist in Residence at Andrew Freedman Home. Throughout her career, Akuma’s work has been showcased both locally and internationally including the Museum of Modern Art Pop Rally in New York City, Sharjah Art Foundation in United Arab Emirates, Beauty Undefined presented by Beauty For Freedom and also at “In/Between 2020: Transfigure, presented by New York Live Arts.
Akuma’s work is inspired by her personal experiences as an immigrant and her time in several countries. She focuses on the inclusion of ubiquitous, overlooked, cultural-rich materials, to explore questions of identity and belonging. Akuma is recognized for her distinctive storytelling technique that involves densely layered discarded leather and objects that portray themes of history, collective memory, and nostalgia. She often pursues the recycled medium while creating her art pieces, as an attempt to inspire her audience to reconsider the environmental impact of their consumption and disposal.
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