The area is beyond stunning as we drive to the Hotel Punkaharju, owned and recently renovated by the international top model Saimi Hoyer.
The fashion show of Lalli Savolainen Design is just about to start and we sit down backstage among all the clothing to have a chat with Hoyer. ”Let’s sit back here, I have a sheer dress so maybe I shouldn’t leave the room half naked now — it’s all good here”, she says warmly as we share the tiny sofa. She’s looking effortlessly stunning but not at all intimidating as I remember her from the TV show ”Finland’s Next Top Model” judge. Instead, she’s easy to talk to, naturally gorgeous and there’s a certain calmness in everything she does.
What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion is about sudden changes, the pulse that you get from the streets, cultures… I’ve always said that every one of us should follow fashion, and take some pinches and influence — but everyone needs to have their own style. If you dress up like the mannequin at the Zara store window, that’s the wrong way. Every person should find their own nuances so that the clothes are part of you. It’s not superficial to think of how you dress — it’s respect towards others. The clothing pieces need to be like your second skin: they need to repeat your personality. Fashion is also a form of art for me, it’s a happy, lovely subject that I definitely look at as art.
” It’s not superficial to think of how you dress — it’s respect towards others.”
Photos: Sarianne Solio, Text: Emmi Kainulainen, Elizabeth Kiikka
How do you recognize a good designer?
A good designer needs to be able to read a woman’s body and the cuts are super important, such as the last in a shoe. A good designer is full of ideas, has a lot of imagination, but they’re also able to ”kill your darlings”. And they need to realize where to draw the line: simple can be beautiful, but it needs to have that special twist.
How about a stylish person?
That person has thought through of how the clothing pieces are communicating with each other. A stylish person… there’s so much. She brushes her teeth, does her hair… If you neglect your hair but are otherwise stylish, that can ruin everything. A huge style mistake is for example if you wear too much perfume or wear high heels but are unable to walk in them. Even if you had the most gorgeous outfit but your heels are so high that you could literally stumble and fall. A stylish person is the one who feels good in her outfit and carries it with great posture. Also how you carry yourself makes a big difference.
You’ve studied literature and been working as a journalist and columnist in many publications during your career. What does writing about fashion mean to you today?
I have an upcoming project where I’m writing but recently it hasn’t been about fashion. I’ve written a lot about fashion in my life, though. I’ve lived inside the fashion world for so long, that for this new project it has been beneficial to be looking at the fashion scene from a little bit further for a while, from a different angle and now I see it in a new light. It’s about giving information, but especially it’s about waking people a little — it is about inspiring them. Many Finnish women don’t have the courage to believe in themselves. There has been a revolutionary change in the Finnish women during the latest years, though, but still, there is a lack of courage in style. I’m sure that writing about fashion is helpful for one’s self-esteem. And when you’re good with your own style, you don’t think about it that much: you just live. I have a habit that, seeing all these stunning clothing pieces here… I’ve found so many cool pieces already, and I get so inspired by fashion shows and I prefer shopping here and in photoshoots instead of going shopping in stores… I hate that! In fashion shows, it is a great way to find new designs when you’re already trying them on.
Video clips: Emmi Kainulainen, Editing: Antton Willberg
Designer Lalli Savolainen with Saimi and the other models of his fashion show at Hotel Punkaharju
“[Fashion is] about giving information, but especially it’s about waking people a little — it is about inspiring them.”
What is your opinion about ecological fashion, design and sustainable development?
That’s the beginning and ending point for everything today in the world. But, not everybody will be a part of it, this might be a little too rough of a comment, but when we’re talking about fur, if you use your old fur and don’t buy a new coat that would be non-ecological, I feel like it’s a lot better thing to recycle and use your grandma’s old fur and not buy the new winter coat. We should think about things this way as well, but unfortunately, the environmental activists with their red paint buckets don’t get this point.
What is the future of fashion in Finland?
If we had the courage to do marketing, if we taught how to sell the clothes in the fashion design schools in Finland things could be different: We have a lot of talent that has been well recognized internationally, but many times when you get the recognition, you’re left alone. The path to get your career to fly is still hard here in Finland — My friend Petteri Hemmilä, who’s an accessories designer at Dsquared, lives in Milan. His path is a good example: He never made it to Taideteollinen Korkeakoulu (The best design university in Finland) so instead, he went to Roihuvuoren ammattikoulu (Secondary level education). When he moved abroad, he had mentors in fashion, such as Ilona Pelli. Mentors are a great way to make your way forward, that’s something that should be included in education, too. Then there’s this saying in Finland that ”artists can’t sell” which is a sick idea. I’ve talked a lot about this with my good friend Johanna Oras: She’s selling a lot and painting with regular paint and not something like her menstrual blood, she’s not an alcoholic or is not depressed living in a cellar or hate the whole world as artists should be. But she’s selling while wearing beautiful clothes — which is something that an artist isn’t allowed to do, they should look homeless. I remember when I was writing these articles about actresses, and they told me not to write about their past working as a model, as they wouldn’t be taken seriously as an actress. All of these are about the same assumptions… The support that the youth should get when starting their careers, it still needs a lot of work. I really hope that the girl graduating from TaiK University won’t end up as an H&M cashier. Unfortunately, this is what’s happening all the time.
“Fashion magazines are not the place to get influenced but instead, you should keep your eyes open at festivals, Moroccan streets.. you get the point.”
Your tips for the ones who are willing to work in fashion in Finland? And abroad?
If you have the chance, you should travel a lot. You should open your eyes on the streets and make your way into the subcultures, that’s where you’ll find a lot of influence. Make sure that you have many people around you that are supporting you and your dreams. You can call them or go to talk to them and not be afraid of them. If you don’t know how to do something, you need to admit that and have the courage to ask for help. The Finnish fear of ”they’ll find out I can’t” is a thing, actually in every industry. You should always do internships if you have the chance, it’s the best way to learn. For example my friend Janne Suono, one of the best makeup artists in Finland, it has been great to see where his interns are today! The ones who had the courage to make the call, that’s when you learn. Reading, exploring, traveling, being curious… those things pave you the way. At one point there was this boom that everyone wanted to become a stylist — and the job of a stylist is super hard: understanding everything you’re doing, to handle the dimensions, color knowledge… It’s surely not a piece of cake. And to become a super good stylist you need to follow different cultures, subcultures and to be brave and get influenced everywhere. Fashion magazines are not the place to get influenced but instead, you should keep your eyes open at festivals, Moroccan streets.. you get the point.