I think I inherited my love for clothes from my grandmother who became famous in her home village for wearing the dresses her sisters gave her on her trip to Canada. As a child I often sewed clothes for my Barbie dolls and dreamed of becoming a designer of evening gowns. However, in the 1990s it seemed too impractical to study at the Estonian Academy of Arts and, inspired by Melrose Place and the success of Hansapank, I became an economy student.
My relationship with fashion and style has always been connected to stage attire. Through my family, I’ve been surrounded by dancing and all sorts of dancing costumes since my youth. My mother owned a dance studio called Prodance (its initial name was Studio of Dance and Drama) and she usually sewed and dyed the costumes herself. I think this is how I got into the habit of cutting, dyeing and combining my own clothes, and subconsciously, it has always been important to me to choose some sort of thematic outfit.
How would I characterize my style? The answer to that question lies in the period when I graduated from the University of Tartu and found myself working for Ivo Nikkolo. Working daily with people whose passion is fashion has shaped my attitude towards clothing and influenced my behavior. Details are essential and that insight must not be kept to oneself. High expectations and the perfection of each and every detail is what guarantees satisfaction. Sometimes I like to dress unpredictably, but unfortunately, I don’t experiment every day and often end up just grabbing a black dress from the closet and pick comfortable footwear to go with it. I quickly accessorise with a scarf, bag or some jewellery and then I am off to work.
My style, what’s my style… Does my style even have a specific classification that describes and frames it? Even I don’t know what I’ll be wearing next season. I’ll definitely be open to new fresh designs and combinations. Maybe it’s contrasts or unexpected details that truly resonate with me. For example, contrasts between old and dignified and ultra-modern, between athletic and elegant, gentle and rough, subculture and kitsch. For me, the world of fashion and clothes is an exciting game that shouldn’t be taken too seriously. If a more conservative passer-by spots me and raises an eyebrow (PS: I find it incredibly amusing), then everything is the way it should be – playfulness and my joy of fashion are still there.
Usually people say that my style is extremely feminine. Dresses, skirts, an emphasised waist. Rather an old-fashioned taste, button-down blouses with a bow at the neck and broad gauntlet cuffs, skirts below the knee and lots of pleated skirts (already 13 years ago, long before they became trendy). I prefer very unique objects with a personal story, so I find my clothes when traveling or second-hand. My style has changed from exclusively black-wearing bohemian and overly colourful hippie to a more classic urban style. I’m not very attached to things; I rather spend more on travel.
My relationship with fashion is basically a long history of suppressing the consumerist desires caused by the capitalist machine, while at the same time giving in to the desire to express myself through my clothes. I think that vanity, if environmentally sustainable, is not a sin in itself, but can there ever be true sustainability in fashion (or any other thing where humans are involved)? I would love to live to see that day!
Most people probably know me as the founder of the fashion blog uustuus.ee, although lately I’ve been more concentrating more on my own project that I do as a founder and creative director of Hmmm Studio. Some recognized projects include branding for TOKU sandals, patterns for Xenia Joost’sclothing line Rebellionaires, visuals for Estonian designers’ campaign MINE METSA. I’m also holding the awards of Design Agency of the Year as well as Designer of the Year. If I had to say something about style, I’d say sporty, eclectic, colourful but at the same time very thought-through, like a character of Japanese anime movie. I have been teaching at Estonian Academy of Arts and been a member of numerous juries, so I actually take design very seriously, even if it doesn’t seem so. But I also like to think about fashion choices as something very personal. If something’s going on in my mind, it will reflect in my appearance as well.
My first fashion memories go back to elementary school. I remember my favourite barbie-pink sweater with tiny gems from the first year of school that I wore excessively, my must-have polished dress-shoes that had to be pink as well, combined with little black dress and white tights. How cool it was to shop at the market of Tartu and my mum letting me choose whatever I liked. I went crazy with my style after I started studying at Estonian Academy of Arts. While attending the Academy I discovered Maja Wyh who became one of my biggest fashion icons of all time, although I’m not following her that obsessively anymore.