Words by Sofia Järnefelt | Photographs by Eeva Suutari | English Editor Julie Uusinarkaus | Layout Matts Bjolin

A limited amount of money. To make a collection a clever student doesn’t need much of it. The fabrics have been collected over years. Everything is utilized for the garments. Cutting waste and hoods. “This product cost me nothing,” Linda Kokkonen explains, then continues, “And it saves the environment. I have to be part of the solution.” Even time has been on a cost-cutting programme. “I’ve slept well every night,”she saysNo prototypes. The unusual way of working has been made possible by patchworking fabrics straight on top of patterns at the cutting table. When wanting something that she couldn’t afford, she has watched tutorials on Youtube on how to make floral lace. 

Some days before the show, lecturer Tuomas Laitinen, slightly chuckling, suggested that the collection should be more about corsets. This means making seven corsets in two days. And Linda thought, “Well okay, maybe I’ll survive. In my own, dark kind of way.”

Add stitches. A pocket. Jeans, front. Coded, floral pattern. Raw edge. Everything stretched to the limit. Remember! Longer sleeves. Loose fabric tightly around the body. Symbols. Collar shirt, cape + leather shorts. Notes on sketches and in research portfolios.

Two days to the show. The line-up is up on the wall in a separate room. Students queueing up outside. Some have worked on their collections since the previous summer. Everyone gets to be alone with the teachers to see if their work is among those selected. Unfortunate news is explained through discussion. Each student is addressed as a person who has done a great job and deserves to individually get the information of being either rejected or accepted. “We should’ve been silent in the queue, but tongues were wagging out of suspense,”says Milka Seppänen. Collection number 21. Approved.

An accelerating jingle of crystalline shoes. The light of a head lamp shining straight in our faces. Colour theories by Albers and Itten setting the pace for transparency. Illusions of colour and contrast. Naked legs, breasts, nipples, buttocks burst on the plate as we drewl and voraciously indulge every thread, pleat, cut. Stop! Let us breath for a second! Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy… 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 13, 21, 34 f(n)=f(n-1)+f(n-2). Circle 360°, round shapes. The End.

“I couldn’t have done anything more personal than this. I’ve been holding it back for several years. If I would’ve done it earlier I could no longer have made any more collections. I haven’t absorbed this from anyone. This is my religion,” states Elina Äärelä. The saints of light step aside and give way to the goths. A club version of Covenants Der Leierman plays in the background. Followed by grunge. Then Ines Kalliala’s kafkaesque fishermen. “Oh, our dark block?” Milka Seppänen answers as we are discussing this segment of the show afterwards. She describes her boys as small town nerds spending days in their bedrooms trying to replicate the looks of people they admire.

Marianne El-Khoury envisions her grand-aunt living her youth in Beirut. How she imagines the evenings spent sipping cool drinks from high-heeled glasses. Daiquiris perhaps. Smoking cigarettes in a warm but dark light. Colours and cocktail dresses. People loving the echo of parties and the ripple of conversations. And after a while getting tired of it all. Dressing in silky blankets. Spices. Velvet. Jewelled up. An impression of nonchalance, that takes a shameless amount of time and effort to create. Marianne slows down a bit and softens her voice: “I dream about that place, that time, though I really know nothing of it. Before 1975. Before the war. Before memories were torn apart.”

Milka, were you nervous before the show? Or excited? Afterwards relieved?

“Today I had no emotions.”

It’s gonna be a fine day tomorrow.

Alex Luonto
Alex Luonto | Amina Saada
Ines Kalliala
Reea Winter | Heidi Karjalainen
Janette Friis
Heidi Karjalainen, Venla Elonsalo & Sari Syväniemi
Ines Kalliala
Milka Seppänen
Linda Kokkonen
Marianne El-Khoury
Elina Äärelä



Ines Kalliala – Näytös 19 award

Justus Kantokoski – Diesel award

Elina Heilanen, Alexandra Hellberg,

Camilla Naukkarinen, Noora Vihervirta – Marimekko award

Alex Luoto – Fiskars award


Designers featured in this article

Amina Saada @amina.saada

Alex Luonto @alexluonto

Marianne El-Khoury @mariannelkhoury

Reea Winter @reeawinter

Elina Äärelä @elinabeth

Linda Kokkonen @linda_maaria

Milka Seppänen @milkasep

Ines Kalliala @inskill

Janette Friis @janettefriis

Venla Elonsalo @yumewako

Sari Syväniemi @sarisyvaniemi

Heidi Karjalainen @heidi_karjalainen

The annual Aalto University fashion show was held on Wednesday, May 29th in Helsinki. For more photos check out @aalto_fashion and @eevasuutari