"Inspiration Requires Structure"

Interview with Albert Kriemler

The Spring / Summer 2018 collection by Swiss fashion label Akris is a tribute to the versatile and vibrant oeuvre of American designer Alexander Girard (1907–1993). How does one approach a life’s work, and how does one translate it into a fashion collection? Albert Kriemler, creative director at Akris, offers his insights in the following interview.

At what moment did you decide to devote your current collection to the work of the American designer Alexander Girard?

In 2016, I saw the exhibition „Alexander Girard – A Designer’s Universe“ at the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein. Inspiration is not something you can plan – it just happens. And when it happened on this visit, I immediately contacted my friend Rolf Fehlbaum. Today I can say that Girard’s mission of making everyday life more enjoyable and more beautiful corresponds closely with my view of the purpose of fashion. I also admire his organisational talent and working methods. Inspiration requires structure, because the latter creates the time and space one needs to pursue and explore a source of inspiration.

The work of Alexander Girard is colourful and diverse. Which aspects did you focus on while preparing your collection?

The selection is intuitive – based on an instinctive feeling and hoping to achieve surprise and delight. In a moment of inspiration, a work can spark an idea for a dress or handbag, for a material or fabric. It’s exciting to translate a plywood sculpture into a chiffon sheath, or an abstract oil painting into an evening gown, or one of Girard’s typographic sketches into a neoprene relief pattern on leather for our Ai bag. In the same way, classic St Gallen embroidery can take on a new, modern appearance time and again.

"Strong, but never loud"

For much of his career, Alexander Girard lived and worked in Santa Fe, New Mexico, while drawing his inspiration from many different cultures. Akris is an international fashion house that was founded in 1922 in St Gallen. How do these contrasts come together in a collection; how do they mutually enrich and interact with one another?

I like the idea that the objects we create become messengers between people who will never meet. Colours are very important to me. Alexander Girard was a master of colour and its use. His colours are often strong, but never loud. I travelled to Santa Fe and visited his family. Because of its high elevation, Santa Fe has a very special kind of light that was new to me. Fashion is also about showing respect for our sources of inspiration, and making this perceptible in the surprises that we create.

The Vitra Design Museum exhibition „Alexander Girard – A Designer’s Universe“ is currently touring internationally and will be shown during the coming months at the following museums:

16 June 2017 – 8 Oct. 2017 Cranbrook Art Museum, USA
20 Dec. 2017 – 4 Mar. 2018 Hangaram Design Museum, Seoul, South Korea
20 June 2018 – 9 Sept. 2018 Berkeley Art Museum, USA


Publication Date: 3.10.2017
Author: Vitra
Images: Akris, 2017