Akris: Modernism in a modernist temple
Good to see a significant Paris museum pay a great compliment to a path-breaking designer, as the Musée d'Art Moderne de Paris did to Albert Kriemler this week.
The museum courteously allowed Kriemler to hold Akris' fall/winter 2020/21 show inside its galleries, with its permanent collection in place. Often the very works that inspired Albert’s new ideas – sleek and refined images of contemporary modernism that harked back to 1930s Paris.
All the way to the color palette, albeit in darker shades, of the massive oils by Sonia and Robert Delaunay, the leading protagonists of the geometric style, Orphism. Playing with their concentric patterns in a series of superb velvet and moiré pants suits and dresses.
While the strict, clean silhouette played with the designs of architect Robert Mallet-Stevens, one of the members of L’Union des artistes modernes, or UAM. Kriemler even was allowed to install several striking Perspex columns that were based on designs from Jan and Joel Martel, two other UAM illuminati.
He opened with punchy suits in marvelous black and white graphics, and played with some spruce faux-Prince-of-Wales prints; and natty sequined cocktails. Practically every model wore a flat cap - French gamine style; walking jauntily as sunlight suddenly broke through the clouds in a otherwise dank day, and illuminated the art deco 1937 structure.
“This place is totally me. The Modernism, the colors, the ideas. I’m very honored to have been given permission to show my collection here. We didn’t have to change a thing, that was the condition for being allowed in,” smiled Kriemler, standing before Raoul Dufy’s celebrated giant tableau, La Fée Électricité, with its allegorical history of electricity from Archimedes to Benjamin Franklin.
Few designers are better at self-editing than Albert, whose deceptively simple wrap coats in double-face cashmere or trapezoid leather cabans were faultless. He also showed an atelier fully on form with several graphic mink coats, where different depths of shaving created intriguing panels. Couture-worthy panache.
Before his final floor-length coats or A-line gowns that seemed to walk out of possibly the most famous painting in the lower gallery - Delaunay’s famed vision of Cardiff rugby team playing below the Eiffel Tower.
At the finale, a wall of applause, as light again illuminated the Seine, seen through the museum’s soaring windows.
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