Paola Suhonen, Founder and Creative Director of Ivana Helsinki, led a march of natural mystery down her Spring/Summer 2013 runway at New York’s fashion week.

Her Mourning Sun Hotel collection tells the story of a solar eclipse occurrence during the annual Midnight Sun Festival in 1940s rural Finland.

The carnival, which is meant to celebrate the twenty-four hours of sunlight, was interrupted by total and abrupt darkness from the eclipse, invoking chilling questions…would the sun ever return? Was the world coming to an end?

Suhonen as an artist is an individual among the fashionable.

“I don’t even like fashion that much,” the designer says.

“I’ve always seen Ivana Helsinki as an art project.”

With hand painted textiles and original film and photographic work, the Ivana Helsinki brand is just that.

Her inimitable aesthetic comes from Finland and its “special place” geographically “between Eastern and Western influence.”

The country has a “weird ordinance” she continues, “a quirkiness already in the culture and the nature” because of the extreme change in sunlight and darkness within a calendar year.

“There’s something weird going on in the whole country,” she confesses.


The Slavic, Russian influence on Finnish design sets it apart from Scandinavian art, which tends to be rich with sleek architectural lines.

Suhonen finds her “very niche, art brand,” a perfect fit for the downtown New York marketplace (the brand launched its NYC Nolita flagship store in February 2012).

“New Yorkers are really close to that bohemian, hippie, and a bit odd kind of quirky style.”

Photos by Chad Saville