An Unassuming Little Black Dress

Vintage fashion is interesting by nature because there's always something new to learn. It's a never ending cycle and so much fun. As an example, one of the first things I do with a new vintage purchase is to research the label. My first 'port of call' is always the VFG Label Resource. It's constantly updated, holds a wealth of information and saves lots of time.

However, I'd recently purchased this unassuming little black dress dating from the early 1980's. Labelled Akris of Switzerland, I couldn't find any information so got to doing a little of my own research. Here's what I discovered:

Akris was founded in Switzerland in 1922 by Alice Kriemler-Schoch. The company initially made simple, dotted aprons that were crafted by Kriemler-Schoch on a single sewing machine. In 1944, her son, Max Kriemler, took over the business. The company grew significantly and under Max Kriemler, Akris produced clothing lines for French designers Givenchy and Ted Lapidus.

In 1980, Max Kriemler’s right-hand man died so his son, Albert, was asked to postpone his fashion studies in Paris along with an apprenticeship at Givenchy, in order to help with the transition. As a result, Albert would never complete his fashion education but within that two year absence, he had already begun to take over the company.

Peter Kriemler, Albert’s brother, joined Akris in 1987 to head its financial side. Peter is now Akris’s global president, handling management and manufacturing. Under Albert Kriemler’s creative direction, Akris became increasingly conscious of the quality of its design. Albert is known for his creative flair and demand for uncompromising quality. In 1995, Akris also introduced a less expensive, younger-looking line called Akris Punto.

Akris was admitted to the French ‘Chambre Syndicale‘, the governing body of the French fashion industry, in 2000. Unusually, the company delayed participating in Paris Fashion Week until 2004, when it was able to secure a spot on one of the event’s most important days. In the 2000's, the company was one of the world’s fastest-growing designer brands, becoming the top seller at stores such as Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus.

Akris’s success is largely due to word of mouth. The company does very little advertising and its success differs considerably from that of other luxury brands as it doesn’t rely on production of signature fragrances or handbags and doesn’t license its name.

As an example of their uncompromising quality, a seamstress is required to train for two years before they can master the hand-finishing of Akris’s double-faced cashmere jackets, each of which requires two and a half days to complete.

Celebrity devotees of the Akran label include Condoleezza Rice, Nicole Kidman, Susan Sarondon and Angelina Jolie.

So, my unassuming little black dress is not quite so unassuming after all!

c/o Catwalk Creative Vintage

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