Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Marimekko, with love

I had the opportunity to see a Marimekko show at the Textile Museum of Canada in Toronto this Spring -- a sort of retrospective of the Finnish fashion house with fascinating archival footage. 

Archival photo of Marimekko "atelier" back in the days when the fabrics were all hand-printed.
Who wouldn't want THAT space as a sewing studio!?

The clarity of Armi Ratia's design vision and the depth of her creative philosophy was probably what impressed me the most. Ratia introduced bold and cheerful colours into the sombre post world-war environment, and only worked with natural materials such as wool and cotton at a time where polyester and synthetics were the norm. 

What is more, the fashion in those years was all about tight, tailored clothes that emphasized the female figure, but she came in and provided an alternative "anti-fashion" that was about comfort and simple lines. Did you know that Marimekko simply means "Mary's dress" in Finnish? Her vision of the "Mari girl" was an independent, intelligent woman.

Also, from a entrepreneurial point of view, that woman single-handedly built an empire, and did so at a time where women were really not accepted into the business world yet!
Fast-forward four weeks later, and I land in Helsinki, Finland... land of Marimekko. Top of my list is a visit at the Marimekko outlet store. After renting the cutest cruiser bicycles, off we go to the suburbs, in search of Marimekko headquarters.
Feast for the eyes, I kid you not!

You're probably burning to know... Did I buy anything?? Well, I had to pratice restraint, but I did purchase five meters of a lovely printed cotton sateen on mega sale for 6 euros/yard. It was one of the tamest, most classic prints in the store: a two-tone print, where part of the fabric is solid brown and the other part is solid navy, a bit like the yellow and blue dress above.

Yes, in my element
On a side note, I was completely enchanted with Helsinki as a city. I was expecting "just another Nordic capital" but was quite surprised by it's Eastern European flair. It actually reminded me of Budapest a lot.

I leave you with a lovely Armi Ratia quote, that encapsulates so well the romantic spirit of Marimekko:

There is only one responsibility -- beauty.
There is only one reality -- a dream.
There is only one strength -- love.

--  Armi Ratia


  1. That exhibition looks amazing! I'm going to have to go look and see if there was an exhibition catalogue produced. And the outlet store looks like fabric heaven too! I love the sound of the fabric you've bought.

    1. Yeah, it was pretty amazing! I wonder if the exhibit will be traveling to other museums in the world? Maybe it would come near you?

  2. Interesting, I missed this exhibit. Shall keep my eyes peeled for upcoming ones at the Textile Museum.

  3. What a lovely quote!! The fabrics look great too!

  4. I'm totally dying with envy over both the exhibition and the outlet shopping!!! Amazing.

  5. Very inspiring! I didn't know much of anything about Marimekko other than bold prints. It's nice to know that it's a bold company in all aspects. So, if you needed to practice restraint, it sounds like the outlet is not a bargain basement kind of outlet. Is that true?


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