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Pictures: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
After seeing T-shirts in bins and racks upon racks of discounted coats at Stockmann’s Hullut Päivät, it was hard to remember that fashion can be an art form.
No one brings this sharper into focus than Anne-Mari Pahkala and her first solo show ‘AIME – Art of Fashion’ presented at Galleria Saima in Helsinki’s Ullanlinna district. Pahkala, who cut her teeth years ago on designing costumes for Burlesque performers said that she looks to the fifties and the sixties for “inspiration in elegance”. The subtle boat neck and long lines of many of her gowns whisper Hubert de Givenchy, but the light, airy silk hand painted patterns on the dresses are all Pahkala.
Pahkala has many muses, but one that is quite evident is the skyline. “It is different every day, no one is alike, just like my silk.” The silks that Pahkala hand paints and dyes are beautiful interpretations of bold colours of the Finnish sky; from the peach sunrises to the deep blue of midday to the light pinks of the setting sun. But AIME is about more than just the changing sky, it is a tangible statement of Pahkala’s design philosophy that is based on unique luxury mixed with mystical storytelling elements.
The gallery space is full of Pahkala’s love of fantasy of soft femininity. Ethereal photographs by Luiza Lehtinen, Heli Hirvelä and Nana Simelius with video installations by Sami Sänpäkkilä surround the clothes, creating a cocoon of the elements of AIME; magically Nordic with seascapes, illuminated night skies and majestic horses.
Surprisingly, all of the silks are washable and quite wearable, apart from a medusian glass necklace fashioned by Pahkala’s spouse, Joonas Laakso. The neck piece perfectly accents yet blends into the symphony of silken blues. For the lover of the immersive sartorial experience, AIME Art of Fashion is a must see.
Anne-Mari Pahkala Exhibition: AIME – Art of Fashion at
Galleria Saima, Neitsytpolku 9, 00140 Helsinki 14.10.-1.11.2015. The gallery is open We-Fri 11-17 and Sat-Su 12-16.
Anne-Mari Pahkala (born in 1984) is a Finnish fashion designer (Bachelor Of Culture and Arts) as well as an artist. Her strong and distinctive visual style speaks a language of its own. Characteristics of her collection include a dreamlike vision and feel, a timeless sense of design and luxurious, high quality materials. Pahkala has years of experience working with the media, in TV productions and on a wide variety of projects as a costume designer and a stylist. She has also worked at an atelier in the historic city of Venice, Italy.
Pahkala became known to the public after appearing in Project Runway: Finland in 2011. Her distinctive handprint has often been seen worn by performing artists, such as Jannika B, who’s known for her dramatic style. Her artistic designs have been seen around the world, in for example Italy, Shanghai and at the Escape Louis Vuitton Gallery in Tokyo, where her designs played a vital part in Sami Sänpäkkilä’s video installation. Anne-Mari Pahkala’s designs have been spread across the media this summer, as she designed the exquisite silk dresses for the Vina Esmeralda campaign of the Spanish wine company Torres. Many influential women, such as MP’s Sofia Wikman and Aino-Kaisa Pekonen, have chosen Pahkala as the designer for their dress to wear at the Finnish Independence Day Reception, held at the Presidential Palace.