It speaks volumes about the growth of the Nordic fashion scene that the opening designer at Paris Fashion Week for spring/summer 2016 was from Finland. Aalto’s collection was a striking array of pastel overtones, jagged hems and subtle layering, teamed with checked prints and loose tailoring. The perfect combination for the changeable seasons, Aalto designer Tuomas Merikoski’s Endless Sun line was inspired by the famous Nordic midsummer. The collection is designed to conjure images of the glorious return of daylight after a long winter.
The changing seasons
Finnish apparel faces a constant challenge to meet the changing seasons with style and flexibility. As a result, winter clothing is very functional while, when the summer comes around, it’s all about colourful and beautiful pieces which are easy to wear. ‘We tend to go a little bit crazy about spring and summer. Because of the long winters, people feel the need to bring colour into their lives,’ explains Emmakaisa Soisalo, design manager at renowned Finnish design house Marimekko. And there is no brand better than Marimekko for colour. The company is credited for transforming textile printing in Finland and has become famous for its printed fabrics in distinctive patterns and colours, which are sold in over 40 countries worldwide.
Bright and beautiful
Each year certain trends lend themselves especially well to the fresh Finnish summer. ‘This season is very colourful and full of prints,’ says Finnish designer Satu Maaranen, a rising star of the Finnish design scene who couples traditional design with modern statements. Her signature pieces feature oversized details, coupled with pared-down silhouettes and plain, earthy textiles. ‘Silhouettes this season are loose and relaxed,’ she continues. ‘You’ll see lots of light materials such as silk and viscose. There are also 1970s bohemian elements, puff sleeves and wide legs, but done in a modern way.’
Go to print
This season prints are key, and florals and checks especially are proving popular. ‘We have been inspired by garden flowers in sun-bleached colours which we contrast with geometric, black-and-white elements, such as hand-drawn checks,’ explains Soisalo. In fact, Marimekko draws a large amount of its inspiration from nature: its Kivet print, which was introduced 60 years ago, was inspired by stones in designer Maija Isola’s garden.
While vibrant colours are in, white is also very big this year, accented with lots of pink and splashes of orange. Satu Maaranen’s key pieces this year include boyfriend shirts in bubblegum pink and baby blue, while Marimekko champions pink boots and wedges to ‘add a fun and surprising element to spring outfits’. Carolina Herrera, the queen of the white shirt, showcased a striking white shirt dress on the catwalk, while the rest of her collection featured an endless spectrum of pink, from bubblegum to deep magenta. Her pink shift dress is a gorgeous option for a warm spring day; cover it up with Burberry Prorsum’s perfect black pea coat – an essential transitional piece this season.
Transitional items that take you from winter to spring are essential in the Nordic countries, and there is no better trend suited to this than layering. ‘The bright side of our extreme seasons is that layering gives dimensions to your outfit and makes it interesting,’ says Finnish designer Samu-Jussi Koski, founder of Samuji, who previously worked as a creative director at Marimekko. Launched in spring 2011, Samuji seamlessly blends European and Japanese design and each collection comprises two elements: the Classic line has a focus on timeless style, while the Seasonal strand features bohemian colour.
This season, layering takes the form of tailored shirts over mid-length skirts, teamed with oversized jumpers, as seen at the Aalto show in Paris. Victoria Beckham – the expert of the mid-length skirt – is the go-to designer for layers this season. Her newly found penchant for oversized checks blends several spring/summer 2016 trends in one: the long-sleeved gingham shirt dress and billowing skirt, available in orange and yellow, are both great options for a mild spring day. Prada has taken layering even further, bringing the seasonal lingerie trend out of the closet and over the rest of our clothes – with sheer, silk and lace dresses worn on top of shirts and trousers. It’s a clever way to dress up an outfit while staying warm underneath.
‘Finland is a land of midnight sun (midsummer) and endless nights (midwinter),’ says Koski. ‘It's challenging at times, but I think seasonal weather enriches our dressing.’