Albert Kriemler is frequently motivated by art and architecture. The creative director of Swiss fashion house Akris has, in the past, been inspired by the work of Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx and German artist Thomas Ruff, while his recreation of a lifesize section of Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto’s House N for the Akris S/S16 catwalk was awarded Best Alliance at the 2016 Wallpaper* Design Awards. For S/S17, Kriemler looked to the abstract aesthetic of Cuban-American artist Carmen Herrera with a collection inspired by the graphic shapes and bold colours in her paintings.
‘These pieces really stand for how I see a collaboration with an architect or artist,’ says Kriemler, who sought an introduction with Herrera after seeing her 1959 work Blanco y Verde – a piece constructed from two hanging canvases with an abstract green triangle in acrylic – at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2015. Meeting Herrera in her studio on her 101st birthday, Kriemler received approval for a collection inspired by her work. ‘You want to get beyond that Braque, Monet or Mondrian effect that has been done by the design world forever,’ he says.
‘I set out to translate Herrera’s abstract, geometric lines into the body language of a woman’ continues Kriemler. The bold colours in her paintings, from tangerine and chestnut to forest green and deep blue, also permeate the collection, which features effortlessly sophisticated shapes like loose kimonos, gently flaring trousers and collarless shirtdresses. Untitled, 1952, which is composed of black and white stripes, has been reimagined in a dress (the first design Kriemler showed Herrera) with bias-cut stripes and a zipped waist. The asymmetric green and white colour blocks in Alba, 2014, have been translated into a circular poncho dress with sunray pleats, while the plane in Blanco y Verde, the catalyst of the whole collection, is also seen in the forest green triangular lapel of a white blazer, paired with shorts.
‘When I met Albert and saw his work, I was struck by the simplicity of his designs combined with his passion for craft and materials. I knew he was a kindred spirit,’ Herrera says. Included in the collection are a series of limited-edition scarves, crafted in cotton, silk and cashmere, that translate images of her paintings using digital photo print technology. Each piece in the collection, from a scarf to a striped playsuit, acts as a microcosmic retrospective of the artist’s career. ‘I found myself having to construct my clothes in the same way that Herrera pieced together her paintings. It was as if my hands were following her eyes,’ Kriemler says, his approach to collaboration in itself a fine art.