Photo: Ian Reid
People tend to think of Stockholm as the epicenter of Scandinavian design (H&M, Acne), but the Swedes don’t have the last word on Nordic style and there are lots of new and interesting things percolating in the region fashion-wise. I know this because one of my dearest friends, stylist Claudia Cifu (pictured here), is always keeping her eye on what’s next—she was the first person to put the name Mary Katrantzou in my ear before the British designer had graduated Central Saint Martins, for example. And as well as introducing me to the delicious world of Finnish snacks (buttered rye toast, chocolate-covered licorice) she’s recently put me on to homegrown fashion talent.
As Claudia tells it, there’s an underlying arts and crafts vibe to Finnish style and it’s something that is resonating with the new wave of young designers there right now. She spotted Saara Lepokorpi at the Aalto University’s graduate show in Helsinki a few years ago, and her work has been on Claudia’s radar every since. A quick glance at Saara’s new collection for her line, Lepokorpi, and you can tell that she has a way with sculptural shapes—which look fantastic in pictures—but ultimately are probably a wee bit intimidating to wear for my Monday morning commute on the subway. That said, I knew that Claudia would be able to show me how to make the look work in the real world, so I asked her to pick her favorite piece from Saara’s spring collection and style it up with her own wardrobe. She chose one of the beautiful hand-woven pieces, and the material is a nod to Finnish rugs known as räsymattos, traditionally made from leftover fabric ends and the kind of thing that kids throughout the country will learn to make at some point along the way from elementary to high school. Thanks to its tassels and tactile heft, it doesn’t take much to bring the tunic to life: A pair of black skinny jeans and a crisp sleeveless collared shirt are the only ingredients you really need.