“Kaamos. Fashion Now: Estonia”. Estonian Fashion Almanac and Exhibition


Exhibition “Kaamos. Fashion Now: Estonia”
Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design (ETDM), Tallinn
September 28 – November 24, 2013

“Kaamos” is an Estonian word describing a particular period during autumn and winter - the pitch-black and quiet time for observation, self-reflection, melancholy and silence. It is in twilight that reality reveals itself differently than it does in direct sunlight; one can recognize half-tones, hear the slightest of sounds.

The fashion project Kaamos aims to introduce a similar sensibility with the help of Estonia's best fashion designers, photographers and beauticians.

More than one hundred fashion creations done by artists of different generations and design aesthetics can be enjoyed in this bridge project. It consists of a book and the first exhibition on local contemporary fashion (at least, the first done on such a large scale), which has been curated by the jeweler and Professor of Design at the Estonian Art Academy, Tanel Veenre.

“The photographic reproductions in the book, as well as the designs showcased in the Museum of Design and Applied Art, provide unique cross-sectional ideas that fascinate Estonian designers here and now,” explains Tanel Veenre. “This is the most substantial overview of contemporary Estonian fashion design ever, uniting various fashion, leather and jewelery designers”. 

We asked Mr. Veenre to answer a couple of additional questions about the book, the exhibition, and the Estonian fashion phenomenon in general.

Exhibition view. Designer: Riina Põldroos

Could you tell us more about this exhibition, and how the bridge between the book and the exhibition was made?

The exhibition was the starting point for this project. I gave selected designers the task of translating the concept of “Kaamos” (the dark period between October and January). I wanted to bring out the mystical and thoughtful side of fashion. The final display is like a fairy-tale, with real stumps hanging from the ceiling, and almost 100 fashion sets underneath them (designed  by Hannes Praks Stuudio).

The works of more than 70 designers from different generations and design aesthetics can be enjoyed in the Estonian fashion almanac - “Kaamos. Fashion Now: Estonia”. What was the formula for selecting material for this book?

All of the designers are active in the field. They should share their passion towards what they do! Besides fashion, there is also a variety of accessories (shoes, bags, jewelery) covered, because I see it as a whole.

Exhibition view. Designers: Triinu Pungits & Marit Ilison

Why is this book being published right now? Does it mark any important milestones in Estonian fashion that are occurring at the moment?

Because it`s such a rare occasion... Actually, there haven’t been any books about contemporary fashion in Estonia - so it definitely is a milestone. I also think that the field, in general, is very active right now. On the one side is the Baltika Group (with brands like Monton, Ivo Nikkolo, Baltman, etc.) and on the other side, small ateliers with independent designers and very exclusive design aesthetics. I hope that there are going to be more small design series (Scandinavia is a good example here) that have a small international distribution.

Could you describe for me the aesthetics of the 232-page book – its design, choice of paper, structure of content, intonation of the text, etc.?

It is like a journey through a picture gallery that starts with black and white photos, goes through dramatic shades into crystal clear visions, and then ends up in bold colors. So, it’s like going from twilight into the daylight.

This book has three texts; they are quite emotional and poetic (because I didn’t want to make an encyclopedic reading). The graphic designers (Stella Skulatšjova and Kerli Virk) did a great job to put this super-diverse salad into one bowl, so that it still looks good and tastes just as well. So, there is a 200-page gallery with each designer’s spreads, giving a glimpse into their world. I also wanted to have it be like a cross-section of Estonian fashion photography – which is also a powerful medium that is so underrated by the art world.

Exhibition view. Designer: Britt Samoson

Could you describe the original and unique code of Estonian fashion aesthetics?

I would say that our strength has been custom-made evening dresses and strong handicraft traditions - the fashion designers aren’t just visionaries, they can actually construct and sew as well. Usually, there aren’t many patterns or decorative elements - so it’s quite a cool way to create an evening gown. I would call it “delicate roughness”. And because it’s such a small field (small country), every voice is still distinguishable. And I would say, honestly, that huge fashion trends – like recycling, futuristic textiles, etc. – haven’t had much impact on the designers. I quite like it because it means that as of yet, we still haven't all become the same.

Designer: Katrin Kuldma

Designer: Liisi Eesmaa

Designer: Xenia