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Akris, Albert Kriemler x Reinhard Voigt, Three pieces print on doubleface wool fabric (foreground), © Artwork: Reinhard Voigt, Three pieces, 1976/77 (background), Editorial, Autumn/Winter 2022, © Photo: Akris
Akris, Albert Kriemler x Carmen Herrera, street style photo, spring/summer 2017, © Photo: Bon Wongwannawat
Akris, Albert Kriemler x Alexander Girard, Wooden Dolls print, Défilé, Spring/Summer 2018, © Photo: Akris

Few fashion houses in the world can look back on a 100-year family tradition like the St. Gallen-based company Akris. The name Akris is a playful derivation from the name Alice Kriemler-Schoch, the founder of the company and grandmother of the current owners. Akris designs are always characterised by a simple extravagance: By means of clear lines and concise patterns, tactile fabric innovations and surprising themes, the brand cultivates a culture of sensual minimalism. The timelessly modern designs, according to the announcement, live from creative director Albert Kriemler’s dialogue with art and architecture, whereby his pronounced sense for materials, cut and colour make even extraordinary creations seem quite “natural”. With the exhibition “Akris. Fashion. selbstverständlich”, the Zurich Museum für Gestaltung invites visitors to “immerse themselves in the artistically inspired collection worlds of designer Albert Kriemler” from 12 May to 24 September. The show also provides insights into the unique savoir-faire of the fashion house, into the sophisticated craft and technical processes behind the creations.

One reason for the brand’s success is Kriemler’s openness to dialogue with other creatives. The show therefore focuses on the artistic worlds that have inspired the collections over the past ten years or so. Whether Albert Kriemler deals intensively with art, architecture, graphics or photography or is directly inspired by the work of individual artists to create his designs – both have left their mark on his signature and have become a trademark of Akris.

In the Spring/Summer 2021 collection, for example, the designer sought an exchange with works by Imi Knoebel; in 2017, it was Carmen Herrera; in 2014, the photo series by Thomas Ruff; and in 2016, Kriemler was inspired by the architecture of Sou Fujimoto. According to the museum, the works cited never seem contrived. It is not a matter of simply transferring them to fabric, but of rethinking fashion in terms of haptics, cut, print and appearance. For example, fabrics were developed that, analogous to Thomas Ruff’s works, create a 3D effect on feather-light, silk mackintoshes, or embroideries that recall the geometric grid structure of Fujimoto’s Serpentine Pavilion, but in movement “create a subtle, feminine radiance through workmanship and cut”.

The show stages twelve inspirational worlds and collections from the years 2009 to 2022, with the garments meeting their artistic, photographic or cinematic counterparts. Nearly 100 selected looks are presented in front of originals by German painter Reinhard Voigt, stone sculptures by Scottish artist Ian Hamilton Finlay or collages by Romanian artist Geta Brătescu. Access to the exhibition is through a trapeze, a visual metaphor for the letter “A” in Alice, the founder of the house, in Akris or Albert. Videos and projections complement and comment on the looks and original works. Since fashion is also always about the feeling when worn and the fabric feeling, Akris invites visitors to slip into a number of garments in the exhibition and literally “grasp” different fabrics and materials.

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