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Marimekko is a Finnishmarker company based in Helsinkimarker that has made important contributions to fashion, especially in the 1960s and 1970s. They are particularly noted for brightly-colored printed fabrics and simple styles.

History

Marimekko was founded in 1951 by Armi and Viljo Ratia, when Armi asked some artist friends to apply their graphic designs to textiles. In order to show how the fabric could be used, the company then designed and sold a line of simple dresses using their fabric. Viljo had been involved in an unsuccessful oilcloth factory, which they converted into a clothing-fabric factory.

Marimekko was first introduced to the United Statesmarker by the architect Benjamin C. Thompson, who featured them heavily in his Design Research stores. They were made famous in the United States by Jacqueline Kennedy, who bought eight Marimekko dresses which she wore throughout the 1960 US Presidential campaign.

In the mid 1960's, Crate and Barrel began a relationship with Marimekko, which continues to this day, utilizing their designs on textiles sold in their stores. Crate and Barrel also uses Marimekko patterns as display backdrops in their stores to add color and seasonality.

By 1965, the company employed over 400, and the company was in every aspect of fine design, from fabrics to toys, dinnerware, even completely equipped small houses. That year, Armi Ratia told Pan Am's Clipper magazine that she was "against success--it is a sick word. Too many side effects." In the interview by R.E. Smallman, she also said that she did not like "hats, corsets. There is almost no more bra or even pants--no elegant woman will wear stockings, perhaps even no shoes. The world changes quickly, and this is expression of the new society."

In 1985, the company was sold to Amer-yhtymä. In the beginning of the 1990s, Marimekko was in a bad financial condition and was considered ready for bankruptcy. It was then bought from Amer by Kirsti Paakkanen, who introduced new business methods in the company and is generally seen as having saved Marimekko. In 2005, Marimekko's revenue had been quadrupled and its net income grown 200-fold. Kirsti Paakkanen is the current CEO of Marimekko and owns 20 % of the company via her business Workidea. In 2007, Paakkanen announced she would gradually hand over her ownership to Mika Ihamuotila, who will be the new CEO and biggest owner of the company.

Later on the 90's Marimekko achieved publicity in the hit series Sex and the City. The main character of the series, Carrie Bradshaw wore a Marimekko bikini on the season 2 and later on a Marimekko dress. On the fifth season the series also introduced tablecloths with Marimekko prints.

In 2007, Marimekko began opening individually-owned Marimekko Concept Stores in the United States and Canada. Currently there are stores located in New York, Cambridge, Massachusettsmarker; Oxford, Mississippimarker; Miami Beach, Floridamarker; and Vancouvermarker, British Columbiamarker.

About Marimekko at FinnishDesign.com


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