• Paola Suhonen/IvanaHelsinki. Photo: Kim Öhrling
  • IvanaHelsinki. Photo: IvanaHelsinki
  • IvanaHelsinki. Photo: IvanaHelsinki

Paola Suhonen believes in her vision

Paola Suhonen is one of the most internationally successful Finnish designers of recent times. Her Ivana Helsinki brand has attracted attention for its colourful prints and stunning dress collections.

Ever since it was founded in 1998, Ivana Helsinki has won fans with its unique approach to design. Run by Paola Suhonen together with her sister, Ivana Helsinki has become a successful clothing brand with an enviable international reputation. Last year it even opened a store in New York. Ivana Helsinki has also starred at New York Fashion Week in recent years, and Suhonen’s designs have been worn by such celebrities as supermodel Helena Christensen, actress Juliette Lewis and musician Beth Ditto. This is no fluke: internationalisation has been the company goal from the start.

Ivana Helsinki’s clothing can be described as feminine, bohemian and functional. They stand out from the crowds, look good and are comfortable to wear. Ivana Helsinki describes itself as a blend of “Slavic rough melancholy and pure Scandinavian moods”. Paola Suhonen draws on her own childhood and a certain Finnish nostalgia for the ‘60s and ‘70s for inspiration. For example, her collections “Where The Fuck Is My Sailor?” and “Leaving Circus” suggest a story behind the designs. Suhonen is herself the best advertisement for her brand. Her Scandinavian appearance and bohemian style sum up what Ivana Helsinki is all about.

Paola Suhonen moved to the US five years ago to study filmmaking and returned to Finland after her studies. In recent years Ivana Helsinki plans to make short films and music videos in addition to clothing.

“Ivana Helsinki is a platform for me where I can do different things. My main tool is my vision, not the material,” Suhonen has said.

Over the past 15 years Suhonen has worked on a variety of design projects and collaborations with other companies. She has designed everything from jewellery and tableware to fire detectors and the interiors of ice cream bars.

Even though she has lived abroad in recent years, her Finnish nostalgia hasn’t disappeared from her clothing designs. On the contrary; her separation from Finland led to the Star Rain collection inspired by dark wintry nights and brilliant stars in the black sky.

You can see Ivana Helsinki’s latest creations and older collections here.

Text: Karoliina Saarnikko