When Indra Nooyi discovered AkrisIn 2010, four years after her appointment as CEO of PepsiCo in 2005, she was one 11 female CEOs at Fortune 500 companies. The Akris double-face sheath was her first purchase. She purchased the same style in black and navy so it could be paired with multiple jackets.
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“If you look at my closet now, it’s about 65 percent Akris,” says Nooyi, who cherishes the brand’s tailoring, not to mention the boost of confidence the clothes provided to the lone senior-ranking woman in rooms dominated by men. “No longer did I have to feel uncomfortable about the fact that I was a woman or an immigrant. There I was, this elegantly turned-out person. They say clothes make the man. I tell you something: Clothes make a woman too—if they’re the right clothes.”
Akris, a Swiss luxury goods label, has always had women as its core constituency. A new book, titled, celebrates its centenary. Akris: A Century in Fashion Selbstverständlich ($85, Lars Müller Publishers), from which this essay is adapted. The word does not have an English equivalent. However, it conveys the following message, according to Albert Kriemler. “the aesthetic ideal of natural self-evidence.”(Among the label’s most recognizable female clients are Princess CharleneMonaco, who attended its 100th anniversary show during Paris Fashion Week; First Ladies Michelle Obama & Jill Biden; and Cate Blanchett.
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It was Kriemler’s grandmother Alice Kriemler-Schoch, who opened the first atelier in 1922 at the age of 26, and his mother Ute who cemented lasting relationships with clients and stores. Ute’s memory still looms large.
“Albert Kriemler’s effortlessly dressed, elegant, and sportif mother Ute was always at the heart of the brand, not only in her style but also in her ease and confidence,”Linda Fargo is the senior vice president of fashion for Bergdorf Goodman. “She was Albert’s muse, to be sure, and at the core of his inspiration for many years.”
Ute was crucial to her success in steering her sons Albert, and Peter into the family business. Akris’s relationship with Bergdorf GoodmanThe company was founded in 1988 and continues to be active today. She was the company’s envoy to New York, hosting trunk shows and sales appointments in the ’80s and ’90s. A family-owned fashion brand is rare.
“Ute would be there in the sales meeting waiting to greet you. She would walk you through,”Roopal Patel, Saks Fifth Avenue’s fashion director, said:
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Patel was at Bergdorf Goodman during the early 2000s when word circulated about the quiet Swiss home. “The rumor was, Albert knew how to cut an incredible jacket.”He experimented with saturated jewel tones, changing the collar notch, and at a time when most designers were using black, navy, and pinstripes.
Vanessa Kingori was then appointed British Newspaper Publisher. GQShe bought her first Akris jacket in London. It was a black number, with slightly cropped sleeves. She wanted to make an impression as she was the first woman, first person of color and youngest person to hold this role. She still remembers wearing the jacket to her first meeting as publisher.
“That was a really pivotal moment in my life. When you’re the first and only in a role like that, you have slight impostor syndrome no matter how qualified you are,”She recalls. “That jacket gave me the feeling of holding me up and making me stand taller.” It didn’t make the woman—it did what it was designed to do.
This story appears on the November 2022 issueTown & Country SUBSCRIBE NOW