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The emails pinged back and forth, between Hamish Bowles, Linda Fargo, Suzy Menkes and dozens of other industry veterans.
Who to honour at the year’s annual Couture Council luncheon, they debated. A precursor to New York Fashion Week, it is an event that has in the past awarded Manolo Blahnik, Oscar de la Renta and Michael Kors. Nominees were put forth and votes taken.
For Albert Kriemler, the contemplative creative director of the Swiss fashion house Akris, the timing of the award proved somewhat of a coincidence. Mr Kriemler had been taken by a painting in the summer of 2015 at the Whitney Museum in New York, an off-white plane with a green arrow by Carmen Herrera. The thought began to ferment: why not show a collection in New York, away from his playground in St. Gallen in Switzerland and the familiar streets of Paris — where the brand has traditionally shown.
If other houses were searching for a moment, Mr Kriemler was quietly writing to the woman that has made Akris a staple of her wardrobe (the brand’s clients include Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and the actress Robin Wright of House of Cards). It also turned to be a love letter to Gotham.
“Everyone can come [to New York] and do something without preconception,” Mr Kriemler said before his spring summer 2017 collection. “I admire that. I feel in a way at home, very much at home.”
The clothes, presented in an unfinished office space near the BlackRock and Wells Fargo corporate offices off Park Avenue — blocks from the corner suites of his very customers — were sophisticated and relaxed. The technique that Mr Kriemler has established, along with the gorgeous fabrics that the house is known, was reworked with a soft touch.
The suits were crisp and light weight: a structured linen jacket in speckled pine green with a single lapel draped graciously over the body; an off white short suit with a splash of green was terrific, particularly as a humid day in Manhattan left pearls of sweat on buyers’ and editors’ brows.
Mr Kriemler laser cut suede over a tulle tunic in a burnt orange palette, slits down the sides, in a pattern from a 1949 print created by Ms Herrera (whose solo exhibition at the Whitney opens next week). The geometric lines were soft and pleasing to the eye. Other pieces from Ms Herrera’s archive, including an orange and red canvas from 1989, were re-created as print crepe de chine dresses.
He said it was “most interesting to transport minimal paintings, mostly just two colours into relaxed, cool and refined woman’s wardrobe.” Mr Kriemler was right.