Art meets fashion at the Akris exhibition in Zurich.


Zurich – The new Akris exhibition at Switzerland’s top design museum is a feast for the eyes and hands, with visitors gazing through intricately printed sequins, dozens of large-scale paintings, photographs and sculptures, braided horsehair studs and a feast of experience. 800 grams of cashmere double face melting on their shoulders.

There are also 3D glasses that bring to life Thomas Ruff’s portrayal of Martian landscapes in one of his photographic works – and an equally otherworldly landscape in his Silk Acres raincoat.

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While the St. Gallen-based fashion house celebrates its 100th anniversary and is peppered with historical information, the extensive exhibition at the Museum für Gestaltung Zurich offers a deep dive into most of Albert Krimmler’s creative process, focusing on the last 15 years, when collaboration and technical wizardry came to the fore.

Krimmler collaborated with the museum’s curator, Karin Jimmy, to display nearly 100 Akris costumes alongside artworks in crisp vignettes reminiscent of contemporary art galleries.

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Designers and fashion brands now regularly release their ties to iconic artists, but Jimmy explains that Krimmler “never goes with what the art world is saying” – and negotiates the current art scene alone without a mentor or advisor.

For example, he focuses on Reinhard Vogt’s pixelated oil paintings, Cuban-American artist Carmen Herrera’s abstract color planes, and Rodney Graham’s multimedia hijinks, often wearing costumes and imagining curious contortions.

What’s more, Krimmler doesn’t simply translate his chosen art into clothing, but allows the works to contribute to the structure, size, color and spirit of the designs, explains Gimmi.

“It’s about the passion, and it’s really building relationships with the people he works with,” she says.

Sometimes the artists are friends, as was the case with Ruff, whom Kreimler has known for 30 years. The duo worked hand-in-hand on their Fall 2014 collaboration, which included looks lit up with LED embroidery.

Akris fashion paintings by Reinhard Voigt and the ones that inspired them.

Akris fashion paintings by Reinhard Voigt and the ones that inspired them.

Several pandemic-era collections have been featured, including a spring 2021 collection with German artist Emi Knoebel.

Knoebel’s room ranks as a complete cinematic art-fashion experience, with mannequins lined up diagonally, echoing the metallic canvases Knoebel holds. A composite film plays on the wall in front of Anton Corbijn, splashing in paint. “It has a dictionary of hundreds of ready-made colors,” Krimmler marvels.

The designer said that Burton Tansky, an early champion of Akris in America, encouraged him to use bright colors by inviting him to Florida, Texas and California.

“I saw what sunlight can do,” he said in front of a display of hundreds of Akris textile paintings over the past 40 years. “You have to have the right fabric to make the color beautiful.”

Albert Krimmler collaborated with artist Thomas Ruff on the Akris Fall 2014 collection.

Albert Krimmler collaborated with artist Thomas Ruff on the Akris Fall 2014 collection.

Architecture can also channel Kirimler’s creative juices, as seen in Akris’ Spring 2016 collection, where Su Fujimoto’s metal grids were interpreted as intricate guipure embroidery on biker jackets and zippered skirts. Diaphanous circle skirts with similar holes, some achieved by laser-cutting.

Thanks to the Swiss company’s experienced seamstresses, Krimmler was able to translate photos of Ian Hamilton Finlay’s Scottish estate from a wooden door to a prison column gown and ponds into dreamy, watery prints on silk georgette.

Akris’ 480 Swiss employees were among the first to experience the show on Wednesday. Peter Krimmler, Albert’s brother and CEO of the family-owned company, felt that the entire company was energized by the project and that it was important to give them the V-VIP treatment.

The exhibition opens to the public on Friday and runs until September 24.

“Collections should be realized by passionate people,” said the executive. “Especially after covid[-19]This exhibition gave a big and positive push.

A comical self-portrait of Lord Bratescu in a yellow poncho.

A comical self-portrait of Lord Bratescu in a yellow poncho.

In the coming months, the brand’s wholesale and business partners will be invited to experience the display in an enclosed space reminiscent of a cathedral.

It will be themed, and visitors can delve into the rooms on the central naval side at will. The first room to the left of the trapezoidal entrance portal is dedicated to Alice Krimmler, the founder of Akris, whose clothes are made of the finest cotton with beautiful embroidery.

Albert Krimmler remembers how his grandmother’s comment changed the minute she walked into Akris Atelier and Workshops, strapping on her braces.

“I’ve always been concerned that the apron is a far cry from today,” the designer said. “The company started dressing women for their everyday work, and we are no different today.”

Jimmy Akris notes that Bauhaus scholar Max Bill raises the bar, whose thinking informs the design museum, inspired by the Bauhaus from the 30s.

“The goal was to create beautiful, functional things, and Acres is very similar to what we stand for,” she said.

Acris eye bags made of horsehair are arranged in a trapezoid shape.

Acris eye bags made of horsehair are arranged in a trapezoid shape.

Albert Krimmler He says he got into printmaking in the mid-2000s at the suggestion of his brother, recalling a small digital printing press he built for textile studies and research at the Lucerne University campus.

The machine allowed him to create photorealistic prints on fabrics, opening up a new creative vista, establishing another brand for Akris, and greatly expanding his artistic collaborations.

“You always have to try new things,” said Krimmler, a mantra coined by his grandfather and father, Max, who is always on the lookout for or inventing the most unique fabrics. “Today I use many of the materials he developed.”

Among his latest collections are 27-year-old Krimmler’s St. Gallen embroideries, adorable family photos, the first Akris ad campaigns and an embroidered dress by Cristobal Balenciaga. New York’s Flatiron District.

And one of Akris’ all-time best-selling shirts, trimmed with an embroidered lily of the valley circa 1953, is also featured. In the year A silk chiffon number from the fall 2002 collection was featured in an exhibition organized by Akris at the Textile Museum in St. Gallen in 2006.

The centenary celebrations were last October with a spring 2023 show, a private dinner and the release of the 162-page tome “Akris – Selbstverstandlich” in fashion. (The last word translates to “of course” in English.)

Annual events have taken place around the world, including recent repeat shows in Seoul and Tokyo.

What is sure to be one of the most popular sections of the new Zurich exhibition will host double-faced cashmere coats from sizes 2 to 16.

“You have to feel what Archies is,” Krimmler said with a smile.

Visitors can sample double-faced cashmere coats and rich fabrics.

Visitors can sample double-faced cashmere coats and rich fabrics.

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