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August 22 2014

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The Finnish Are Coming!

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For a quaint Nordic nation at the tip of northern Europe, Finland is making a big mark on the global fashion scene. Plucked out of Espoo, Finland, rising 16-year-old star Kirsi Pyrhonen seems poised for supermodel-dom—barely two seasons into her career, she’s nabbed a solo cover for Vogue Italia and made her way into the September issues of W and Vogue. And come September 16, the Finland-born, Brooklyn-based brand IVANAhelsinki will be the first Finnish fashion label to march down the runway during New York fashion week. “It’s a great honor to show in New York,” says the label’s designer, Paola Suhonen. “I really feel that we Finns have something, this weird twist between pure Scandinavian culture and Slavic melancholic roots, that will be interesting for Americans to explore—David Lynch meets Björk.” That’s not a bad way to describe her Spring collection, Where the F*** Is My Sailor?, which consists of nautical striped frocks.

Meanwhile, a cool Nordic breeze is blowing in London, too. Last night, the Finnish Institute here hosted Hel Yes!, a design extravaganza that came with a clear message: Move over Swedes; it’s Finland’s turn to make waves. Helsinki has just been crowned a World Design Capital—and last night showed us exactly why. A four-course dinner was served up by waitresses dressed in “uniforms” (think hunter-gatherers wearing dirndls) created by Erdem’s former assistant Heikki Salonen (pictured, left, with Johanna Laitanen and Maria Duncker), an up-and-coming Finnish designer handpicked by Lulu Kennedy for Fashion East.

Katharine Hamnett, Jefferson Hack, Tom Dixon, and Kinder Aggugini were among those who gathered at the giant Aspen wood tables. The case for Finnish design was strong, but it’ll take plenty of the cinnamon vodka on hand to get Englishmen into the country’s cuisine. “Are we going to be eating reindeer meat?” asked Love‘s Isaac Lock. Not this time, but Salonen tells us it’s no big deal—it’s kind of like hamburger meat for Finns. “I guess people feel all funny about potentially eating Rudolph and his mates,” he said with a shrug. “But we are over that.”

Photo: Nick Harvey

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