VIDEO: How Carmen Herrera Inspired Albert Kriemler’s Spring 2017 Collection for AKRIS

The collaboration is one more feather in the 101-year-old artist's cap.

In 2015, Albert Kriemler, the creative director of the Swiss fashion company AKRIS, was given a tour of the new Whitney Museum’s first show, “America Is Hard to See,” and was fascinated with one work in particular by an artist he had never heard of. It was a white painting bisected with a sliver of a green triangle called Blanco y Verde (1959), and the artist was Cuba-born, New York–based abstract expressionist Carmen Herrera.

“I had only one wish,” Kriemler told artnet News about his feeling after seeing the work. “To meet her on my next New York visit.”

Kriemler’s wish was granted. He met the artist in May 2016 on her 101st birthday. The meeting would spawn a collaboration that resulted in Kriemler’s Spring 2017 collection for AKRIS.

The designer, who oversees the label, which was launched in 1922 by his grandmother Alice Kriemler-Schoch, has long been known for being a fan of the visual arts. His personal art collection, from which he draws inspiration for his own creations, includes works by Paul Thek, Lawrence Weiner, and Ursula Schulz-Dornburg. He’s teamed up with German photographer Thomas Ruffarchitect Sou Fujimoto, and choreographer John Neumeier on past collections, and has even given a nod to the buildings of Swiss architect team Pierre de Meuron and Jacques Herzog, who are his close personal friends.

Kriemler’s designs are known for their exquisite tailoring and sophisticated fabrics, and have attracted a loyal following that includes Angelina Jolie, Tina Fey, and Amal Clooney. And while Kriemler noted that Herrera’s minimal designs were, at times, challenging to translate into shapes that would be worn on a woman’s body, Herrera’s bold prints and geometric canvases were ultimately a natural match for his precise St. Gallen’s lace suits and loose linen dresses.

We met with Kriemler in the fall of 2016, after the AKRIS line was first presented. At the fashion show, we even spotted a few art world faces along the runway, including the Whitney Museum’s Alice Pratt Brown, director Adam Weinberg, as well as Swiss Institute director Simon Castets.

At the time we met Kriemler, Herrera was having one of the biggest events of her career: her first solo museum show, “Lines of Sight,” at the Whitney, an exhibition that was considerably overdue given that the artist had been working in New York since the 1950s. That show was one of several celebrations of Herrera’s life and work, which also included a presentation of recent paintings at Lisson Gallery and the release of a documentary film, “The 100 Years Show,” by Alison Klayman, who also directed a film about Ai Weiwei. The AKRIS collaboration is one more indication of how broad her influence continues to be.

“This is not a question of a year or a period,” Kriemler said about the concepts in Herrera’s work that attracted him. “It’s a question about her life work.”

In the video above, watch Kriemler tell the story of this singular collaboration.


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