The swirl of nonstop fashion month events got underway uptown yesterday with fashion week’s unofficial kickoff party, the FIT’s 11th annual Couture Council Luncheon at David Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. Following in the footsteps of past awardees likes Alber Elbaz, Karl Largerfeld, Oscar de al Renta, and Manolo Blahnik, Akris creative director Albert Kriemler accepted the 2016 Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion for his beautifully tailored, wearable pieces.

“When it arrived in the mail and landed on my desk in the beginning of January, it was a complete surprise, I literally didn’t believe it,” Kriemler said before the ceremony kicked off. For the occasion, Kriemler moved his Akris show across the ocean from Paris to New York, which he will debut Friday at Lever House.

Once the crowd, a mix of socials and fashion industry insiders (including Martha Steweart, model and new FIT teacher Veronica Webb, Bergdorf Goodman’s Linda Fargo, and the Museum at FIT’s director Dr. Valerie Steele), was seated, Couture Council chair Yaz Hernandez took to the podium. “Over the 11 years, we have raised more than $8 million with this lunch,” she said. Yesterday they bumped the number up even more, raising over $800,000 to help continue the high standards for the fashion exhibitions at FIT.

Before Fargo honored Kriemler, there was a toast to the late Bill Cunningham, who was always a regular face at the event.

“Albert is someone who chooses to fly under the radar,” said Fargo. “But under Albert’s direction, Akris has become one of the most desirable brands to the most accomplished and discerning women in the world.” After a standing ovation for Kriemler, it was off to the next event.

Albert Kriemler

Zach Hilty/BFA.com

Linda Fargo

Zach Hilty/BFA.com