On its 100th anniversary, Akris creative director Albert Kriemler reflects on the creative and artistic collaborations that have defined the luxury brand


During Paris Fashion Week last month, Akris’s 100e anniversary The spring 2023 show was staged in the outer plaza between the Palais de Tokyo and the Museum of Modern Art, an ideal location for a brand that prides itself on being at the intersection of art. The outdoor fountains were fittingly festive for the occasion, adorned with a large Ugo Rondinone rainbow that said “We are poems”.

The sculpture had particular resonance for creative director Albert Kriemler, who frequently acts as an art curator in his role at Akris. “It has to do with her sexiness,” he said. “That’s how I see clothes. They don’t just have to be watched; they must be felt. He added: “And the rainbow represents everyone and everything. It is the expression of a new horizon of hope and peace.

Albert Kriemler looked at Reinhard Voigt’s paintings for Fall 22. “He was inspired by his mother’s cross stitch. His approach was: “How much can I shrink an image without losing its beauty?” That’s how I see fashion. In the end, it’s a question of essential minimalism, but while keeping a value. Courtesy of Akris.

The rainbow featured in the finale: a sand-colored dress with streams of floating spectrum silk. Essentially, the collection was a study in craftsmanship and restraint, but also in time and timelessness. To celebrate the brand’s centenary, a few archive pieces were interspersed with the show, including a chic 1978 cashmere wrap that opened the show. They blended seamlessly and looked just as modern as the new pieces. The retrospective book Akris – A century in Selbstverständlich fashion came out last month.

It is difficult to define what distinguishes Akris at each Paris Fashion Week. The Swiss brand specializes in minimalist luxury, but thrives on its otherness, swimming slowly and steadily upstream of the fashion continuum, heads down, ignoring everyone else and doing its own thing. Most seasons, Kriemler collaborates with an artist or architect, with the resulting spectacle serving as a heavy visual input into their oeuvre.

Albert Kriemler, creative director of Akris.  Photo: Anton Corbijn

Akris creative director Albert Kriemler. Photo by Anton Corbijn.

Artistic collaborations are certainly not an exclusive territory for Akris, but Kriemler’s way of approaching them is. He’s looking for an intellectual, heartfelt connection, instead of trying to predict who NFT’s new hip prodigy will be. He’s assembled an eccentric and disparate roster of smart collaborators, a mix of heavyweight artists and architects, as well as under-the-radar creators he’s geeky about. Kriemler has had a keen sense of sight since his youth.

“I’ve always had a passion for fashion,” he said. “I liked to draw from an early age. I accompanied my parents to fabric fairs when I was 15 years old. Kriemler has been at the helm of the company since 1980, when he was named creative director at age 19. His grandmother founded Akris, which originally specialized in aprons, in St. Gallen, Switzerland’s embroidery capital, where it still has its headquarters. Albert’s brother, Peter, is the president of Akris.

La série <I>coat puller<I> by Rodney Graham lent itself well to fall 2017. Courtesy of Akris.  ” width=”1024″ height=”550″  data-srcset=”https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/11/Akris_final_0009-scaled-e1668116797159-1024×550.jpg 1024w, https://news .artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/11/Akris_final_0009-scaled-e1668116797159-300×161.jpg 300w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/11/Akris_final_0009-scaled- e1668116797159-1536×826.jpg 1536w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/11/Akris_final_0009-scaled-e1668116797159-2048×1101.jpg 2048w, https://news.artnet.com/app/ https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/11/Akris_final_0009-scaled-e1668116797159-1920×1032.jpg 1920w” sizes=”(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px”/></p>
<p id=by Rodney Graham coat puller lent itself well to fall 2017. Courtesy of Akris.

Art first mingled with Akris when the brand began parading the Paris catwalk in 2004. Kriemler had been vying for a coveted spot on the Parisian calendar since 1996, but was denied by the Fédération de la Haute Couture and Fashion. Akris was eventually accepted after a regime change at the institution. “I realized I had to do more than just show off my collections,” Kriemler said. “We have always stood for timeless, modern and wearable clothing. But I had to get additional messages. The first collection was dedicated to Felix Vallotton. He was this Swiss and unrespected artist during his lifetime in Paris. I saw this as a perfect metaphor.

This new path of inspiration opened up a renaissance for the brand and a creative passion for Kriemler. It made Akris an international player and an ongoing artistic project. Sitting in front of a large bay window on the second floor of the New York flagship, he discussed about 100 years of Akris and some of his favorite art crossovers.

Digital prints of Thomas Ruff's interstellar landscapes defined fall 2014. Courtesy of Akris.

Digital prints of Thomas Ruff’s interstellar landscapes defined fall 2014. Courtesy of Akris.

Thomas Ruff

“I saw Thomas Ruffthe retrospective [Works 1979-2011] to Haus der Kunst in Munich, and I knew I would create a collection inspired by him. He has been a friend for over 40 years, but also one of the most important photographic artists of our time. He said, “I’m not a fashion designer, but come here and we’ll talk. I selected seven works, mostly of his photos of galaxies and universes, the Cassini, which couldn’t be done today because the Cassini burned down, so it was an interesting group of work.

Thomas Ruff Constellation Dresses.  Courtesy of Akris.

A behind-the-scenes image of models wearing LED-lit Thomas Ruff constellation dresses. Courtesy of Akris.

“Every month, I went to his studio in Düsseldorf. He was totally involved in the development of the fabrics and then the silhouettes. When you’re working with an artist, you’re most concerned that they feel respected. It’s fabulous when you can work with an artist’s work and make them happy too.

An installation view of “Farbenlehre for Fashion!” Akris & Goethe. Courtesy of the Goethe-Museum Düsseldorf.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“I made this collection with a lot of horsehair fabric, which is pretty amazing. It picks up color in such a beautiful way when you dye it, comparable to cashmere. And it’s a durable fabric because that mostly horses just go to the hairdresser, you know? It’s one of the most valuable natural fiber fabrics still woven using weaving machines created in 1884. I wanted something more this period, then I discovered his Farbtafel tables, they had such modern graphics and fabulous colors that I reached out to the Goethe Museum collaborate.”

Akris Printemps/Été 2021 Avec l'aimable autorisation d'Akris et Imi Knoebel <i> Gelbes Hamburg</i> (1999) <br /> Photo: courtesy Michael Werner Kunsthandel” width=”1024″ height=”648″  data-srcset=”https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/11/BeFunky-collage-2-1024×648.jpg 1024w , https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/11/BeFunky-collage-2-300×190.jpg 300w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/ 11/BeFunky-collage-2-1536×972.jpg 1536w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/11/BeFunky-collage-2-2048×1296.jpg 2048w, https://news. artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/11/BeFunky-collage-2-50×32.jpg 50w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/11/BeFunky-collage-2 -1920×1215.jpg 1920w” sizes=”(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px”/></p>
<p id=Akris Spring/Summer 2021, courtesy of Akris and Imi Knoebel, Gelbes Hamburg (1999), photo courtesy of Michael Werner Kunsthandel.

Imi Knöbel

“This man has an incredible sense of color. It is very difficult to get in touch with Imi Knöbel. He’s really shy and he doesn’t want an audience at all. He does not care. He doesn’t want to talk about his art. He thinks: “My art must speak for itself, and any explanation is obsolete.

“His workshop has around 800 different colors that he develops and mixes himself. It was a joy to work on this collaboration during the heavy confinement. Imi once explained to me that he calls himself an artisan rather than an artist, and that the only answer to what you think when you look at his paintings can be: don’t think at all. »

Printemps 2017 avec l'aimable autorisation d'Akris et Carmen Herrrera, <i>Blanco y Verde</i> (1959), Whitney Museum of American Art Purchase, with funds from the Painting and Sculpture Committee “width=”1024″ height=”648″  data-srcset=”https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload /2022/11/BeFunky-collage-3-1024×648.jpg 1024w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/11/BeFunky-collage-3-300×190.jpg 300w, https:/ /news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/11/BeFunky-collage-3-1536×972.jpg 1536w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/11/BeFunky- collage-3-2048×1296.jpg 2048w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/11/BeFunky-collage-3-50×32.jpg 50w, https://news.artnet.com/ app/news-upload/2022/11/BeFunky-collage-3-1920×1215.jpg 1920w” sizes=”(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px”/></p>
<p id=Spring 2017, courtesy of Akris and Carmen Herrrera, White and Green (1959), Whitney Museum of American Art.

Carmen Herrera

“I was on tour with [museum director] Adam Weinberg through the Whitney and it was wonderful to see Ellsworth Kelly, Agnes Martin—all the most striking American minimalism. Then there was this painting White and Green by Carmen Herrera. The second he told me she was still alive, I was so tempted by this delicate triangle in a fantastic green color. And to see these color combinations, white and green in the 50s! I found that quite striking. She never got the recognition she deserved for being a woman. She lived on 19th Street and passed by on her 101st birthday. She was in a wheelchair. I designed the collection and we showed in September, the same month she had her first retrospective.”

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