Armi RatiaPosted: May 3, 2013
Armi Ratia 1912 – 1979
Marimekko was put on the map by Jackie Kennedy in 1960 when she bought 7 cheap cotton dresses of a bohemian designer from a stockist in Cape Cod. Jackie was photographed with her husband on a boat sporting a pink loose fitting Marimekko. It appeared on the front cover of Sports Illustrated. She was praised for her down to earth dress and John went on to become President.
Armi and her husband set up Printex an oilskin textile company. Business slowed so Armie decided to change to a designer led textile house. She recruited Majia Isola, a Finnish designer to create original prints.
Marimekko was born – set up by women for women.
In 1951 Armi held a fashion show called the Marimekko Project – patterns made from the textiles. Housewives could make the patterns from Marimekko fabric. Instead they bought the ready made clothes.
Marimekko fashions were designed to liberate women from the tight fitting body shaping dresses of the 1950’s to clean loose fitting dresses, skirts, trousers and shirts in crisp cotton. The clothes were unconventional, informal and accessible to anyone. The name itself means ‘A dress for Mary’ (the woman on the streets). It’s clean unisex lines and free flowing style conveyed a feel of sexual equality. When Ratia was accused peddling ‘sexless’ clothes, she replied “A woman is sexy, not a dress’.
The Company flourished for the next two decades. Ratia died in 1979.