While being the largest city in Finland, on a global scale Helsinki is a relatively small city with about 600,000 inhabitants. It is the capital of Finland, a country where, just like a Brit once noted to me without ever even having visited, “everybody knows everybody”. While a bit of a far fetch as a generalixation, this couldn’t be more true about Helsinki’s crowd of people who work in the creative and fashion industries.
When their bankruptcy began to seem imminent in the end of 2012, the designers of Minni f. Ronya Anne Törnroos and Minni Suova made a plan – perhaps to avoid all the drama of what could have been endless gossip and rumor in our coastal town – and contacted the Design Museum of Helsinki to host an exhibition on the subject. Located in the hall of the 19th century building, the exhibition “Konkurssi Bankruptcy” opens to the public today May 22nd and features illustrations by Minni Suova, photography, art installations, video installations and a collection deemed to be their final work as Minni f. Ronya.
News of the banktruptcy broke out on Facebook about a month before the opening, when Minni f. Ronya bluntly opened a Facebook page called “Konkurssi” (Finnish for bankruptcy). The visual content of the page was very out of tune with what all of us had learned to expect from the two designers: there were no dream like visions of cool and beautiful young women wearing clothes with luxurious materials, surreal prints and perfectly crafted detailing, but instead a burning dress from their debut Autumn-Winter 2011 collection. A video showing the same dress being burned to literally nothing was also released at the same time. The video didn’t give any answers relating to what was actually going on, and whether the bankruptcy was real or if it was a gimmick to market a new collection. It was an explicitly aggressive and dark move from Minni f. Ronya and initially made you think whether the designers had turned their back on the brand they created once it had become obvious they couldn’t save the company from a financial ruin.
Before the opening of the Konkurssi Bankruptcy exhibition yesterday, a panel discussion was held on the subject of bankruptcies in the field of fashion in Finland and foremost among young local independent labels. The panel included professionals from other brands, retailers, fashion magazines, trade organizations, Aalto university and Anne Törnroos and Minni Suova themselves. Just minutes into the discussion, it began to be clear that the exhibition was Minni f. Ronya’s informative way of telling about the company’s bankruptcy and things behind it, but also an expressive way of going that would feature new work created entirely for it – a swan song of sorts. The designers of Minni f. Ronya themselves stated that the exhibition is not the end but a start for something new. This didn’t really come through in the nature of the Konkurssi premarketing visualization and the video, as based on those, one could have expected an overexpressed and bitter disclosure for the brand, but actually what was told and shown by Minni f. Ronya was a heartfelt, open and brave exposure to a very current issue. Very unlike the destructive vision of burning dress, the Konkurssi Bankruptcy exhibition could also mark a new meaning to all four collections Minni f. Ronya created during their brief yet significant lifespan, some of which are still available in our e-store. If you have no plans for seeing the exhibition for shedding some light on the subject of bankruptcies, I suggest you go there to at least see the clothes.
Osma Harvilahti shot these images for the collection titled “New Beginning”.
We’re fine. Four Minni Suova illustrations for iconic fashion magazines Vogue, Love Magazine, Dazed & Confused and I-D each featuring a look from one of Minni f. Ronya’s four ready to wear collections on their cover. While the cover photos are propably just every starting brand’s career aspirations, the magazine headlines hint of the irony of keeping up appearances and in tune with the fashion world while not maybe doing so well financially.
The most straightforward part of the exhibition: framed invoices and printed emails speak an uneasy truth about the everyday life of a young fashion brand.
Minni f. Ronya Konkurssi Exhibition runs from May 22nd until June 30th in Design Museum. Address Korkeavuorenkatu 23, 00130 Helsinki.
Pieces from Minni f. Ronya collections from Spring-Summer 2012 and Autumn-Winter 2012 are available at Acolyth e-store and Helsinki store.
Konkurssi video and photography Noora Lehtovuori.