Ivana Helsinki is the first Finnish fashion label to show on the official IMG MB New York Fashion Week, where the cult brand, known predominantly for its beautiful hand knits, unveiled its SS11 collection.
The collection, with its Qurelle-esque title of ‘Where The F**k Is My Sailor?’ sees head designer Paola Ivana Suhonen taking things in a nautical direction. Designs draw heavily on Nordic seafaring traditions; from red-white-and-blue nautical stripes to motifs based on sailor’s tattoos. The simple silhouettes have a baby-doll femininity about them and more than a passing nod to the spirit of the 1960’s. In fact, this collection in particular reminds one a little of the work of Annika Rimala for Marimekko in the 1960’s, perhaps the last Finnish label to get this much attention in the USA, spurred on by Jackie Kennedy’s purchase of several iconic frocks.
Ivana Helsinki, however, can more than hold its own when it comes to celebrity fans. Helena Christensen, Juliette Lewis, Alexa Chung, Peaces Geldof and Beth Ditto have all fallen in love with the beautiful hand knits and simple lines.
With the “Where The F**k Is My Sailor Collection” there is definitely an intentional frisson between innocent girly simplicity and a coquettish stance that also seems to hark back to the contradictory female sexuality of the 1960’s. It’s veers pretty close to the clichés about racy Scandinavian women ready to fully explore their sexual freedoms at a time when the rest of the world was still wrestling with repression. If this all sounds a little farfetched, it becomes less so when one learns that Paola Ivana Suhonen is also the creative director of Love Contemporary, the USA-based title devoted to the lifestyle of love in its more earthly explorations of delight.
Both Love Contemporary and Ivana Helsinki have attracted a lot of press interest and probably stirred a few tingly feelings with their quirky and very Finnish rendition of a pop-up store in New York’s Mulberry Street.
However, Ivana Helsinki remains a family-run business grounded in traditional craft. Taking her inspiration from the Finnish landscape with its eerie light and unique atmospheric conditions, Paola Ivana Suhonen and Ivan Helsinki, connect the highly contemporary with age-old craft. The signature hand knits are produced in Lapland by traditional craftspeople and the other collection pieces are all produced in Finland on a small scale ensuring the time and care to give them a special personal quality. Despite the highly contemporary vision of fashion from which Paola Ivana Suhonen’s designs flow, Ivana Helsinki naturally appeals to women who appreciate the unpretentious warmth emanating from garments produced with love and a balanced view of the world in which forests, the sea and moonlight feature as much as urban chic.