Finland is famous for its short summer and long winter. As an immigrant from Canada and being no stranger to winter, I decided to start preparing for the cold season by asking a simple question: “Fashion and winter. Do they go together in Finland?”
I decided to seek answers from the store of the famous Finnish actor-supermodel, Niina Kurkinen, who runs her fashion boutique Nina’s at Helsinki’s Bulevardi.
Her compact store punches at a higher weight than its square footage. All of the trends of the fall 2015 season are here: leather fringe skirts, minimalistic blouses and Chloe bags in the latest shapes and colours. Classics are also very present, be it constructed black blazers, gauzy cashmere sweaters or that perfect pair of J Brand skinny jeans.
We started from the basics and tried to nail down a typical Finnish look, which Kurkinen found surprisingly hard to do.
“The youth of Helsinki are “very individualistic, they express themselves how they dress, from their mood to their values.”
Krkinen also finds that Finnish women have to be practical dressers, because of the climate, yet “minimalistic and a little bit architectural.”
Kurkinen made a point of separating Finnish fashion from the rest of Europe by example. “If something is in fashion in Copenhagen, everyone wears it and it becomes the look on the street. But in Helsinki, only a few would wear it. There is less of a uniform here.”
However, when discussing changes she would like to see sartorially in Finland, she emphasized investing “time and focus” when choosing clothes. By that, she finds that she hears that building a wardrobe is too much effort.
She advises people to “pick a day, go into your closet. Raid it. Throw things out and add new things. And really think about what you are going to wear for the next six months. She went on to paraphrase New York designer Diane Von Furstenberg, saying “When you open your closet, it’s like saying hello to best friends.”
Kurkinen also emphasized the importance of planning ahead: “Helsinki is a small city. If you have an event to buy for, chances that you will find something are fifty/fifty. If [when you shop] you find something that looks good, buy it! Buy that evening dress, especially if it is on sale. If it fits perfectly, get it and the event will come.”
When asked about how to dress for the climate, Kurkinen emphasized balance. “When I wear a big coat to keep warm I wear two pairs of stockings under a fitted pair of jeans. She also mentioned that doing one’s hair and makeup make a huge difference. “Lipstick doesn’t make you ski any slower and you never know who you will run into on the slopes”.
Niina Kurkinen, 41, started working as a model after moving to Paris at the age of 16. She has a long career as a model for Lumene. Kurkinen has also appeared in Finnish films, such as Levottomat (2000) and Sooloilua (2001).