Pictures by Valter Tornberg | Interview by Minna Kiistala Copy Editor Matthew Jones

Student of fashion design Valter Tornberg, 25, creates fashion that is unwearable art. He got international recognition in W, Novembre Magazine and Dazed after the show Näytös16 of Aalto University.

Art or fashion?

I did not intend to become a fashion designer. For me, clothes are just another medium for expression and I try not to restrict myself in any way. I like the idea of moving back and forth between the fields of art and fashion. My point of view is purely artistic.

I grew up in a family of artists.  Perhaps because of this, art was the least appealing choice for a long time. However, I have studied in art schools since I was young and at some point I knew that I couldn’t do anything else.

Form or color?

While I see form and colour as inseparable, I always start with the form and then move towards the colour. I want to take the form and material of the garment to extreme directions, combining traditional craft techniques with synthetic materials and chemicals. My inspiration comes from both historical and contemporary sources.  In my last collection, for example, I combined concepts of abstract expressionism and bauhaus with contemporary art references and mid-century West German pottery.

Is fashion political?

Some had seen a reference to the burka in my latest collection.  In the current political climate, this connection could be viewed easily as a political statement but it wasn’t my intention. The Burka is an interesting subject and I don’t see it as a bad thing if my work evokes this reference but I was actually intrigued by the idea of dripping and melting. I made the masks with my friend Laura Jantunen from parachute cords using a traditional macrame technique to create an image of a face melting onto the body. I wanted to abstract the model – transforming the body from a human being into more of an object.

Who inspire you?

I admire those who have a multidisciplinary approach to art and fashion. Lately, I’ve been intrigued by the processes of Bjarne Melgaard and Sterling Ruby.  I was inspired to study fashion after seeing Walter van Beirendonck’s collaboration with Erwin Wurm.  Their work made me realize what fascinating things you can do with clothes. Fashion is not just about clothes but about everything that is interesting in the world at the time. Most artworks stay in museums and galleries but fashion spreads through the streets and the world to become part of people’s lives.

Fashion for masses?

Fashion creates a lust for things we don’t really need. We have to understand that the resources of the Earth are very limited. I enjoy designing clothes but I don’t want to produce for masses. I don’t want to create clothes that inspire people to buy them.  I make clothes for myself.  The rest of my wardrobe is mostly purchased second hand and only from designers who I respect. High fashion is mostly well-made and it’s easy to see why it’s so valuable.


After I graduate as Bachelor of Arts next spring I might continue to study art. At the moment, I’m working on a new series of installations and sculptures. They might have elements of fabric in them but this time they are not garments. Perhaps in the future I will return to wearable work.







Macrame in collaboration with Laura Jantunen

Original styling for Näytös16 Lutz Huelle & Tuomas Laitinen

Photography assistant Ines Kalliala

Model Hope Achan

Casting Jasmin Islamovic