Hyvästi, Marimekko Co-Founder Riitta Immonen

Immonen.jpgHere at UnBeige HQ, we’re sporting our most somberly-hued Marimekko ensembles as we bid farewell (“hyvästi” in Finnish) to Riitta Immonen (pictured at left), who co-founded the famed Finnish textile and clothing company and died on August 24 at the age of 90. According to the Finnish newspaper YLE, “Immonen was known for her one-of-a-kind outfits, celebrity clients, and a question-and-answer column which she wrote for Eeva magazine in the 1950s and ’60s” (we imagine the column as a cross between Dear Abby and Diana Vreeland, but with more consonants and references to salted fish).

Marimekko (“Mary’s little dress”) was born when Immonen, a self-taught designer and shop owner, advised her friend Armi Ratia to make dresses from the bold, hand-printed cotton cloth produced by the company owned by Ratia’s husband. Noted yesterday’s New York Times obituary:

On May 20, 1951, the two women showed 27 dresses designed by Ms. Immonen at a Helsinki restaurant, Kalastajatorppa. As she did at her atelier, Ms. Immonen gave each outfit its own name, a practice that would become standard for subsequent Marimekko lines.

Last year, Immonen was celebrated in an exhibition at Helsinki’s Design Museum. “All her pieces were unique,” said her biographer, Ritva Koskennurmi-Sivonen. “Partly because Finns are so individual, but also because the society is so small that no lady wanted to see another in the same dress.”