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Style Extra

“I Prefer Simple, Sleek Lines”

Akris designer and creative director Albert Kriemler doesn’t like to use the word “luxury” to describe his collections, which are instantly recognizable to his followers for their elegant, architectural lines. But his penchant for using the most expensive fabrics available in his homeland of Switzerland gives everything he does an unmistakable luxe look that has earned him fans all over the world.

“I create clothes for the experience of the woman, relevant in many cultures that prove compatible with the rhythm of her life regardless of her age or nationality,” says Kriemler. His grandmother, apron manufacturer Alice Kriemler-Schoch (the house’s name is inspired by her initials), founded the company in 1922. Akris came to the United States when Kriemler’s discerning eye for understatement caught the attention of Dawn Mello, then fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman, in 1989. Today, with Kriemler at the helm, the family-owned line outsells Armani in many department stores here in the United States.

For many years, Akris was considered an “insider’s” label with a cult following for his chic but below-the-radar designs. When Kriemler showed in Paris in 2002, his classicism and clean lines won rave reviews from fashion critics because they seemed very much of the moment. In fact, fashion had finally caught up to him.

In recent years, Kriemler introduced a line of accessories that included unusually shaped, unadorned handbags in luscious leathers. As with his clothing, the bags eschew the usual showiness associated with “status” handbags from other designers. They are clearly for the woman whose own initials are enough. “Certain things,” says Kriemler of his aesthetic, “are just very Akris.”

What’s important to you in dressing a woman?
I think today’s clothes need to be simple because our lives are so complicated. 

What is it about Florida that inspires you? How would you characterize the style of your clients who live here?
The woman who lives in or travels to Florida, or any other warm-weather destination, is on my mind at the start of every collection. Fabric is most important; it needs to be light, crisp and colorful.

What inspires you?
A visit to Japan and the Kyoto gardens made me think of other clothes for summer with more relaxed refinement, more simplicity and more ease. The shirt is the most important piece of a summer wardrobe. It needs to be soft, roomy and light in the finest crisp cotton, Sea Island denim or in a bold flower print. 

What’s the best way to personalize a woman’s style with jewelry and accessories?
I think it’s important that they look modern, and their clothes and accessories only appear secondarily. The biggest compliment a woman can receive is that she looks interesting and smart—timeless, in a way, and not at all trendy. I prefer simple, sleek lines in clothing, accessories and jewelry. For me, precious and unique materials that last, such as horsehair, are important. 

Did you always know you wanted to be a designer?
I had already started creating at the age of 11. To be able to create and develop something in life and to work with a team of skilled, motivated and creative people is just fabulous.

Whose style do you admire and why?
It’s my mother’s style, always. Additionally, there is the sophisticated woman who understands what we do—our highest expectations on new forms of refinement and modernity, at the same time being understated and chic. 

Where do you see your label going in the future?
Fashion is always a constant evolution. You have to feel this and put it into your own creation. Women are moving away from the rules of dress to find much more freedom. There is more desire for individuality. I look forward to fulfilling those needs to be dressed for the future.

Gulfshore Life’s Style Council
Led by Denise Cobb, the members include Patty Baker, Mary Susan Clinton, Shirlene Elkins, Heather Fitzenhagen, Susie McCurry, Amy Oshier, Connie Rosellini and Cynthia Sherman. 

Saks Fifth Avenue
Waterside Shops, 5395 Tamiami Trail N., Naples; 592-5900.

For even more style scoop, catch up on our Style File blog.

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