Ivana Helsinki is a whimsical Finnish brand founded on fairly tales and painted dreams. At the time the label was started, Paola Suhonen was a professional snowboarder, photographer, writer and a filmmaker. Her doodles translated from canvas to print during a collaboration with some of her friends. Her prints soon became renowned and her brand catapulted to cult sensation with their bright colors and easy to wear designs. Ivana Helsinki has gone on to branch into several different lines including womenswear, homewear and a film production unit. The label was also the first Finnish female fronted brand to be invited to take part of the official New York and Parisian Fashion Weeks.
For the Moomin collection they incorporated true personal life experiences into this bright colourful summer collection.The collaboration with the Moomin’s came out of mutual love and respect when the family of the acclaimed illustrator and creator of the Nordic folklore reached out to Ivana Helsinki for an off beat collaboration. The finished product was a collection gives off a mysteriously delightful line of classic and interesting pieces. We chat with label founder Paola Suhonen about her line.
How did you start designing?
Everything started as my personal art project. I had been studying design for a year and was actually a professional snowboarder at the time. I started doing a collaboration with my friends,so that was my first lean towards the fashion part. I was mostly doing art direction, I started painting on clothes and textiles. I always loved vintage design and thought, why not just not put the clothes on the wall and actually make them wearable. So it just began. Even now Ivana Helsinki is very much about prints and colors and graphics.
Nordic design is considered top tier in the world, do you feel this has had a strong influence on your design?
Finland has such a strong design heritage all the way back from the beginning with our architecture and prints and such. So absolutely it has had some influence on me.
Marimekko comes to mind!
Yeah we always get compared to them like a younger version more edgy version.
What was the inspiration behind the whimsical Moomin collection?
I grew up with so many artists and always admired Tove Jansson, who is the illustrator and creator of the series. She passed away ten years ago, so it wasn’t possible to collaborate in person but we have some friends in common and introduced to her family and they came up with the idea to do an upscale experimental design object so here we are.
It started as one season but it went so well so now its an ongoing thing. It will have its own collections moving forward.
What are your plans for the future?
We’ve been doing this for 20 years, yet I still feel like its my personal art project, but it’s great to see it on the streets and people wearing my designs. Last week I saw someone in NYC wearing a dress. It’s a funny thing. I almost feel like saying hi to them.