Prime Minister of Finland Mari Kiviniemi

Finland’s attractive new Prime Minister Mari Kiviniemi could potentially serve as a fashion icon, showcasing the best of Finnish fashion design. That is what first lady Jackie Kennedy did for the USA in the 1960s, when she became a symbol of sophisticated style from America.

The personal style of another Finnish politician, President Tarja Halonen, has previously gotten a good deal of attention, as is often the case with female leaders. For her large purses, Mrs. Halonen has also been compared by some local wits to Moomin Mamma, the mother of the main character in a popular series of children’s books from Finland.
That is not precisely the kind of fashion ambassador needed by Finland. We need a fresh start.

Perhaps our new prime minister, Mari Kiviniemi, can fill this role.
Mari Kiviniemi got off to a shaky start when she was spotted wearing a hot pink jacket shortly after coming into office in the summer of 2010.

Over a glass of wine, a pair of stylists observed that Mrs. Kiviniemi, 42, may now be going too far in the opposite direction, favoring the business suit and corporate style. “It makes her look too old.”

But the consensus is that the prime minister has been able to pull off some lovely ensembles. “I really think that she has an eye for colors and how to mix them together. I like the simplicity and clean silhouettes of her clothes,” says stylist Niko Luostarinen.
On the other hand, Niko isn’t certain that the clothes the prime minister really needs exist in Finland. “We need more high-end labels.”

I’m not so sure about that. I believe that we do have fabulous designers here in Finland. The problem is, they are Finnish, which, to Finns, is not good enough. There’s a feeling that Italy and other countries do it better. Finnish fashion magazines often contain little or no Finnish fashion.

Minttu Vesala, one of the most influential stylists in Finland, shares this opinion: “I think the Prime Minister should use as much Finnish fashion as possible. Not only one label, many of them, and the outfits should be really nicely planned and designed for her.”

She mentions labels such as Vuokko, Finsk, Minna Parikka, Samuji, Heikki Salonen, Anna Ruohonen, Jasmin Santanen, Yat and Vanhatapio. More of the Finnish fashion avant garde could be added to the list.
The Helsinki Sanomat reports that Kiviniemi’s personal shopper has a list that includes Finnish labels such as Rils and Marimekko, Pertti Palmroth for shoes. Yes, these are Finnish, but these are the safe choices, the ready-to-wear ensembles that appear on every woman on the streets of Helsinki of a certain age. It’s time to make the move to high fashion.

Take the next step, Mari. Go from the personal shopper to a stylist. Let your stylist contact designers such as Catherina Eden, a Finnish designer working out of London. She, for one, is absolutely willing to lend clothes. Finnish design is finally getting recognition on the runways of New York, London and Paris. Give us some recognition at home.
Text: Julie Uusinarkaus

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