Marking moments with Marimekko in New York
We sift back through recollections of joy Marimekko brought to New York and look forward to more at our new Wooster St. store.
In 1961, during the US presidential election, Jacqueline Kennedy toed the paradoxical line between approachability and exclusivity. As a privileged woman in power, she sought a way to connect with the American voter and, famously, found one sartorially. Though Kennedy was often seen as shy, selfless, and sacrificing in the public gaze, she knew how to stand out. Peering beyond the waist-pinching dresses of the 1950s, she turned to Marimekko’s new age shift silhouette, collecting seven frocks that would herald a new era. Their crisp cuts, bright colors, and bold prints were an embodiment of freedom; a reflection of the change Kennedy represented.
“One has to dream. And one must stand out from the rest,” said Armi Raitia, Marimekko’s founder, at the beginning of her career. It was this spirit that Kennedy embodied by wearing those timeless dresses. She succeeded in charming voters, garnered deep respect from the people, and transformed the White House into a showcase for America’s most talented and accomplished musicians, actors, and intellectuals. Her Marimekko dresses were a mark of optimism. And the beginning of a special bond.
Years later, up in Manhattan, another of the world’s certified style icons felt the modern allure of Marimekko. In the famed uptown apartment of Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw hung our pink Tantsu (dance) curtains—a design inspired by folk art and reminiscent of traditional embroidery—in front of her notorious writing desk. In later scenes, she donned a Marimekko bikini for a beach outing and a dress that rivaled the lights of Times Square. Even her shoe icon, Manolo Blahnik, has an affinity for the infectious prints. “I remember my sister in their smocks. There are millions of their prints that I adore, but I really have a particular fondness for Unikko and BonBon,” he said. On two styles of his stilettos, Unikko (poppy) and BonBon (a black and white nature-inspired print), carry the verve of new spring air.
When you consider the commonality in these moments—bright-eyed optimism, timeless style, big dreams, New York—you get the urge to spread the joy and connect with the people who live these wonderfully creative lifestyles. How could we, as designers and makers, build a frame for connection and rewarding moments?
An idiosyncratic work-in-progress store was our answer. In a city laden with non-stop stimuli, it’s almost impossible to stand out—but it is possible to reflect our world. A world that is textured, layered, unpolished, sometimes messy, always changing and often takes you by surprise. Marimekko 97 Wooster St. is a studio-like space in the vein of our Helsinki print factory. It’s colorful, offbeat, draped in flourishing fabric, and rooted in Finnish and Nordic design: functional, honest, and, well, sometimes a bit odd. It’s peppered with authentic design furniture, where you can enjoy a respite from the chaos of the streets and open yourself up to a creative spark.
Inspired by our history with New York, we want it to be a timeless place you can rediscover over and over again as it blossoms with each new project, visit, collection, installation, experience, get-together, dialogue, influence, and year. It’s personal and seasoned with life itself. Come to feel inspired, stay to meet creative minds, and—if it brings you happiness—leave with a new dress, set of curtains, or vessel that will remain positively timeless.
Welcome to Marimekko 97 Wooster Street, New York.