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NYFW Spring 2013: Marimekko Shows for the First Time

For Marimekko, prints aren't a trend, they just are. Yesterday, the Finnish textile brand—known for stamping bold and unconventional patterns on everything from throw pillows to dresses for more than 60 years—made its New York Fashion Week debut. And not unlike those signature prints, the show was anything but ordinary.. Legendary supermodels Carol Alt, Pat Cleveland and Carmen Dell'Orefice (who is 81!) walked in a kaleidoscope of bright colors, stripes, polka dots and atypical shapes.

Before the show, I spoke with Marimekko President and CEO, Mika Ihamuotila and Head of Design, Noora Niinikoski, about what makes Marimekko so special.

Lucky: This is the first time you're showing at New York Fashion Week. Why now?

Mika Ihamuotila: We want to give a fashion statement to the world. We are such a different kind of a fashion brand than the others. We think that New York Fashion Week is actually the best fashion week in the world, where people are open for a new kind of philosophy.

How is Marimekko's "statement" unique from the other brands?

MI: I personally think that most of the fashion brands hide the identity of women behind a luxury bag... or something like that. Marimekko has always wanted to be the exact opposite of that. We want to encourage people to be who they are and find happiness through that.

We've always been proud of creating designs that last for decades. When I encourage our designers, I always tell them, "Don't try to please the market, go rather to own your heart, your own soul and create something that is important for you. We want to be a counter movement to this rapidly changing fashion.

And why aren't you wearing any colorful prints today?

MI: (laughing) The girls are going to have the colors, I need to be a contrast for them!

Lucky: What was the inspiration behind the prints and patterns you created this season?

Noora Niinikoski: We were inspired by abstraction of landscapes—how we can see layers of colors in the landscape and how that translates into rhythms of stripes and the boldness if nature.

When conceptualizing a collection, do you come up with the prints before the silhouette and style of the garments?

NN: We are print masters so we really focus on prints, and at the same time color, because the color really gives the prints life. Then together with the print, we study the character of the print. From there we find whether [the fabric should be] light weight quality or whether we need more stiff, heavier quality. From that it leads us to the silhouettes, how the print is placed on the garments, how the print moves when it's worn. There are really many different levels.

What is your favorite print?

NN: I like bold ones and colorful ones! There are so many possibilities… I think that's the fun part of Marimekko.

Photo above: WWD/Robert Mitra

Photos: WWD/Robert Mitra

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