Jackie O's go-to everyday label gets a modern twist
By BANU IBRAHIM
When Jackie Kennedy was on the road in the 1960s, campaigning alongside her husband, John F. Kennedy, she made a pit stop that would change the face of American fashion forever. Jackie O purchased seven dresses (and wore one on the cover of Sports Illustrated) from Marimekko, the Scandinavian clothing and textile company that is synonymous with bright pops of color, clean and simplistic silhouettes, and bold plays on geometrics. And just like that, Marimekko exploded on to the American fashion scene overnight, becoming the new face of the feminine styles in the 60s.
As Marimekko enters its sixth decade in the industry, it still proves to be a champion of its core aesthetic. Its latest RTW Fall 2016 collection, which premiered at Paris Fashion Week, still featured period flower-power fabrics and played around with iterations of Adam and Eve, two patterns created by Katsuji Wakisaka in 1972. But the departure of the collection from the past to present was all found it the layering. Neutral additions -- like chunky turtlenecks or wide-leg trousers -- helped balance out the overall color palette and proved that bright pieces have a place in a modern day woman's wardrobe, even during a time where monochromatic minimalism seems to always dominate.
The collection's incredible balancing act between new and old can be traced back to Creative Director Anna Teurnell. With just two collections under her belt, Teurnell has already proven to be an unstoppable force in the industry, renewing the Marimekko collection to a modern standard, without sacrificing its rich history.
We caught up with Teurnell to find out what really goes on behind creating such an incredible collection. Ahead, we spoke to her exclusively about the Marimekko design process, the biggest styling mistakes women make, and her one piece of advice she has for any female entrepreneur.
And to see the full Marimekko RTW Fall 2016 collection, scroll through the gallery below!
How has your past industry experience shaped how you operate as a designer?
All the jobs I have had along the years have taught me valuable things. When we started & Other Stories, we started from scratch. Here, in turn, I have this powerful heritage and archive to lean on. In many ways the two brands and working with them has been very different, but what has been important in both jobs is having a great team around you, trusting your intuition and keeping the customer in mind in order to give her not only a great product but lots of inspiration as well.
I think that Swedes are particularly good at packaging and conceptualizing things. Finns, on the other hand, have a very strong design heritage to lean on, which is fantastic. For example Marimekko has 3,500 prints in its archive, which is obviously a great resource for us.
If you could give someone a snapshot as to what goes on behind the scenes of a collection, what would it look like?
The starting point for the collection work is a visual goal that I create for both ready-to-wear and home. We have an in-house design team and we also work with many freelance designers – and that has always been the case at Marimekko. Our in-house team has a crucial role in the coordination of the collections, as well as expertise when it comes to prints, techniques and so on. It all comes down to being true to the core of Marimekko, while thinking about what feels relevant now.
One of the key things in our collection work is also our in-house textile printing factory that is located in the same building with our HQ. Having the factory close to the design team makes a great difference in our ability cherish our print making to the extent that we do.
I find Marimekko's printing process so fascinating. Can you expand on the level of craftsmanship that goes into each print?
As said, having the in-house printing mill here at the HQ is an incredible resource and inspiration for us in the design team, and it allows us to be very creative in our print design process. You can always see the touch of a human hand in our prints – that is a part of our design language. We use a lot of overlays of color to create interesting new tones and Marimekko's trademark look, and we keep little "imperfections", traces of the human hand, in the final prints. Our design team works closely with our artwork studio, which helps our designers in defining colors and creating repeats, as well as turning their sketches into printable prints. Finally, we can print prototypes and samples here and work closely with the staff of the printing factory.
What has it been like designing for a company that's very much rooted in history? How do you find the balance between what's "trending" versus Marimekko's core aesthetic?
Marimekko has a very strong aesthetic that has been built along the years. While it is very important to cherish the DNA of the brand and take good care of the classics, Marimekko has always been about renewal and surprise as well. Along the years every designer that has worked with Marimekko has incorporated their unique flavor to the brand. I feel very inspired about having the opportunity to add my vision to this continuum.
What has it been like being a woman at the helm of an incredible company (that also employees so many women)?
Marimekko has always been a company of strong women and we are proud to continue that tradition – even though, of course, there have been and still are many fantastic men in the company too. Founder Armi Ratia as well as many other strong women after her have worked towards empowering women and making them feel good about themselves. The Marimekko dress is a great example of this: the liberated silhouette was designed by Vuokko Eskolin-Nurmesniemi to free women to move and be active in the society. There is something very powerful about that.
What advice do you have to other women out there hoping to climb their own career ladder?
I think it is important to walk your own path and believe in your intuition. However, most of all I think it is crucial to keep active and do things that take you closer to achieving your goals, step by step. Taking it from thinking to concrete actions.
What is the biggest styling mistake you see most people make?
I think women should dress for themselves, not to please others.
How would you describe the Marimekko woman?
The Marimekko woman is an empowered woman of today. She marches to her own beat, being herself, not pretending. She values putting effort into making everyday moments special.
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