Harry Kivilinna, curator and exhibition architect from the Design Museum, Helsinki.

Bendigo Art Gallery’s latest exhibition originates from the Finnish Marimekko textile and fashion company which was founded in Helsinki by Viljo and Armi Ratia in the early 1950s.
Design Museum Helsinki’s Harry Kivilinna said the museum held a huge archive of Marimekko designs which was deepening all the time.
“The Marimekko designs and fashions are the most popular in our museum,” Mr Kivilinna said.
The Bendigo exhibition features more than 200 objects including 60 outfits, swatches of original fabrics, homewares, sketches, a vast array of accessories and archival materials including magazine covers, original photographs and designs.
Mr Kivilinna said the relationship between the key designer Magi Isola and the company’s founder Armi Ratia was an interesting one.
“Magi Isola was shy and worked from home.
She wasn’t at all involved in the politics of the company. She had a take it or leave it attitude to her designs,” he said.
“Her only concern was that the dresses did not destroy the pattern.
“The simplicity of the designs, such as Isola’s Unikko (Poppy) design is such that many people will immediately recognise them.”
Mr Kivilinna said the garments were virtually anti-fashion.
“The simple dresses were easy and liberating to wear,” he said.
Marimekko’s dramatic and colourful patterns arose from the company’ collaboration with a diverse array of textile artists, graphic and fashion designers and artists – many of them female.
Significantly contributing to their popularity, Jacqueline Kennedy wore several Marimekko dresses during the 1960 United States presidential campaign.
The exhibition will run until June 11.
Harry Kivilinna will speak about Marimekko: Design Icon 1951 to 2018 and highlight key works on display in the exhibition on Saturday, 12.30pm – 1.30pm, La Trobe Arts Institute, 121 View Street, Bendigo.

– Dianne Dempsey