Amelia’s Magazine | R/H Label, fashion design from Finland: meet Hanna Riiheläinen and Emilia Hernesniemi

Hanna Riiheläinen and Emilia Hernesniemi RH Label
Hanna Riiheläinen and Emilia Hernesniemi of R/H Label.

I met Hanna Riiheläinen and Emilia Hernesniemi of R/H Label on my trip to Moscow, click where they came by train (very jealous) to pitch their brand to a panel of experts for feedback, website of which *ahem* I was one. The girls studied together for six years at the University of Art & Design Helsinki, and have forged a strong partnership which made them a delight to hang out with during my stay in Russia and I was utterly charmed by their playful style, for which they are the best ambassadors. In the first of two blog posts here’s a summary of what R/H Label are up to.

RH Label by Fawn Carr
RH Label by Fawn Carr.

R/H Label was named for a combination of the girls’ surnames, and was founded only last June in Helsinki after being in the planning for way longer, both girls having studied and worked in fashion at home and abroad after graduation – I actually met Emilia a few years ago when I borrowed clothes from Agency V, where she worked as a PR. Small world eh? They took this time in the industry to learn about the commercial sides of the business and analysed what they could do best when starting their own label: clever girls. It is no surprise that their designs perfectly encapsulate the Agency V aesthetic; playful, colourful, printed. All good things in my book!

RH Label by June Chanpoomidole
RH Label by June Chanpoomidole.

Whilst the Finnish design scene is strong on the international stage, the fashion scene is something new, and so for them indigenous inspiration comes from the likes of well known furniture designers Alvar Aalto and textiles supremo Marimekko who mainly produces textiles for the home. IVANNAhelsinki is one of the only major Finnish fashion designers to have a profile abroad, as well as Laitinen menswear which has a high profile in Milan and Paris.

Hanna Riiheläinen of R/H Label in Moscow
Hanna Riiheläinen of R/H Label in Moscow.

But now is an exciting time because there is a new generation of creatives coming through. Ones to check out include fashion photographer Susanna Majuri and Helsinki based illustrator Laura Laine. Emilia and Hanna work with creatives across lots of disciplines and are inspired by Finland’s location between the east and west – a place where different visual aesthetics easily meet and mingle. Functional solutions come over from Sweden, but there is plenty of rich decorative detail to play with from the eastern side.

RH Label SS 2011 blue dressRH Label SS 2011 jacket leggings dahlia
R/H Label S/S 2011.

RH Label SS 2011 by Michalis Christodoulou
R/H Label SS 2011 by Michalis Christodoulou.

S/S 2011 was R/H Label’s first commercial collection, inspired by Dolly Parton, Mickey Mouse, Black Magic and the Nordic Summer Sky. You don’t get much more fun than that! It features a mix of local reindeer leather and bamboo jersey and all the bespoke prints were digitally printed onto silk – they like to create every element of the collection. I particularly love the purple sky and dotty dahlia prints, and was thoroughly enamoured of their ceramic eyeball necklace, created in collaboration with a local ceramics studio.

RH Label AW 2011
R/H Label A/W 2011.

RH Label AW 2011 by Michalis ChristodoulouRH Label AW 2011 by Michalis Christodoulou
R/H Label AW 2011 by Michalis Christodoulou.

For A/W 2011 they were inspired by Dragons, Mountains, Acrobats and Vagabonds. Another rich inspirational mash up! Role models that helped to inspire the collection included the strong character of Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander, and Finnish author Sofi Oksanen. Lots of black is offset again with bright prints in louche easily wearable shapes.

RH Label AW 2011 coat
R/H Label A/W 2011

Production is mainly done in Tallinn, Estonia which is 80km away, but the reindeer bags are made in Helsinki and they are keen to do more with local materials. Interest in the collection has been quick and enthusiastic and as well as stocking at home in Finland they already have stockists in Berlin, Vienna and New York. Naturally Agency V has been looking after press, which is also going pretty darn well for such a new label.

RH Label AW 2011 jumpsuit
R/H Label A/W 2011

Now they just need to figure out a way to grow the brand organically whilst retaining their creative control… it’s all about achieving that balance, which is why they came to Moscow for advice. In my next blog Hanna and Emilia answer a few questions. In the meantime take a browse around the R/H Label website and R/H Label online shop. Let’s hope they find stockists in the UK soon.

Emilia Hernesniemi RH Label
Emilia Hernesniemi of R/H Label talking to Michael Salac of Blow PR.

Categories ,A/W 2011, ,Acrobats, ,Agency V, ,Alvar Aalto, ,berlin, ,Black Magic, ,Blow PR, ,ceramic, ,colourful, ,Dolly Parton, ,Dragons, ,Emilia Hernesniemi, ,Estonia, ,Eyeball Necklace, ,Fawn Carr, ,finland, ,FInnish, ,Helsinki, ,IVANNAhelsinki, ,June Chanpoomidole, ,Laitinen, ,Laura Laine, ,Lisbeth Salander, ,Marimekko, ,Michael Salac, ,Michalis Christodoulou, ,Mickey Mouse, ,Mountains, ,Nordic Summer Sky, ,pr, ,prints, ,R/H Label, ,Reindeer Leather, ,Riiheläinen, ,S/S 2011, ,Silk, ,Sofi Oksanen, ,Stieg Larsson, ,Susanna Majuri, ,Tallinn, ,University of Art & Design Helsinki, ,Vagabonds, ,Vienna, ,Womenswear

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Amelia’s Magazine | Forests Rocks Torrents at The National Gallery: Review

Chalets at Rigi 1861 Alexandre-Calame
Chalets at Rigi 1861 by Alexandre Calame. Oil on Canvas. All photos courtesy of the owner, Asbjørn Lunde.

Forests Rocks Torrents is a rare opportunity to see a collection of magnificent paintings by some grand names of European landscape art – part of the privately held Lunde Collection. This is the first time I’ve been invited to an exhibition preview at the National Gallery, but what the heck, I liked the look of the image on the invitation so I thought I’d trot along and find out if the exhibition lived up to first impressions. Forests Rocks Torrents has been themed around the concept of similarities between paintings by Swiss and Norwegians. Well, I say, of course they are similar! They feature mountains and wilderness, and were all painted over a similar period during the 1800s. But that’s not to detract from my enjoyment, for this is a fine collection of realist landscape art. We were by turns guided through the paintings by curators Christopher Riopelle and Sarah Herring.

Scene from the Era of Norwegian Sagas 1850 Knud-Andreassen-Baade
Scene from the Era of Norwegian Sagas 1850 by Knud Andreassen Baade. Oil on Canvas.

The first room hosts the epic grandeur of Knud Andreassen Baade, who places a small figure with arm held defiantly aloft on a cliff top at sunset. It’s a mythical Wagnerian vision of Norway that conjures up the warriors of a bygone era. Many of these artists were intrigued by the past, and menhirs – the remnants of a Viking culture that live on in the pastoral landscapes where peasants eked out a living at the foot of mountains – feature prominently in the art of Johan Christian Dahl. The beauty of the rural life (hardship unseen) is idolised in the Hobbit-esque homes depicted in Chalets at Rigi by Calame (at top), the low slung dwellings seeming to mould into the rolling hills as if in harmony with nature.

Fjord landscape with menhir, 1837 Johan Christian Dahl
Fjord landscape with menhir, 1837 by Johan Christian Dahl. Oil on Canvas.

Robert Zünd was painting Switzerland at a time that tourism was yet to become a mainstay of the Swiss economy – as such the mountainscapes he viewed were something that people knew little about. Zünd used small amounts of red to draw attention to the tiny figures who would otherwise be overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the surrounding countryside.

The River Lutschine near Lauterbrunnen Calame
The River Lutschine near Lauterbrunnen by Alexandre Calame. Oil on Canvas.

Alexandre Calame was a grand master of European landscape painting who had a most unfortunate childhood. He was born with a limp and then lost the sight in one eye. When his father, a marble carver, died early, he was forced to take a job in a bank to help the family finances. Luckily good fortune prevailed and a banker discovered his artwork. He is now considered one of the greatest artists of the European landscape genre from that period. During his life he was commissioned by a huge European clientele who wanted a slice of Alpine wilderness in their luxurious mansions. They specifically asked for depictions of torrential rivers and wild weather, as typified in Mountain Torrent before the Storm (The Aare River, Haslital) Alexandre Calame was intensely religious and believed in the innate divinity of nature.

The Lower Falls of the Labrofoss 1827 Johan Christian Dahl
The Lower Falls of the Labrofoss 1827 by Johan Christian Dahl. Oil on Canvas.

I was intrigued to note that these paintings all have very specific geographic labelling, a highly desirable feature for prospective buyers which made the actual locations reachable. It immediately made me wonder whether these paintings have been used by climate change scientists to track weather changes: after all, these paintings may be all we have as evidence of the breadth of glaciers two hundred years ago. The curators seemed bemused by my questions but I’m certain I’m onto something.

At Handeck about 1860 Alexandre Calamea
At Handeck about 1860 by Alexandre Calame. Oil on Canvas.

Trees, as might be imagined, feature strongly in these paintings. The exhibition notes attribute anthropomorphic attributes to these majestic sentinels, but I am sure it’s far simpler than that – they were magnificent specimens of nature that we are asked to look on in awe. Some of Calame’s close up paintings of rock formations are rendered in a peculiarly modern graphic detail that belies their age. Johan Christian Dahl too, was obsessed with intriguing rock formations – in his Study of a Rock from Nystuen on Filefjell the rock is everything, and he would go on to include studies like this in larger pieces.

Tree Study , by a Stream, Granvin 11 July 1839 Thomas Fearnley
Tree Study, by a Stream, Granvin 11 July 1839 Thomas Fearnley. Oil on panel.

Thomas Fearnley was a prodigy of Dahl who travelled widely. He was also obsessed with rocks. In Arco Naturale, Capri, the languorously fluid tower takes centre stage. Some of his work in the exhibition was created in the marble mining regions of Italy, where he found the weather much more favourable. Widely acknowledged as a master during his day he sadly died before his 40th birthday.

Seascape about 1860 Peder Balke
Seascape about 1860 Peder Balke.

Peder Balke travelled to the most remote stretches of Norway that he could find to locate vistas that were little known to public gaze. The Mountain Range ‘Trolltindene‘ reveals a mountainscape of bleak extremes – the jutting peaks towering over a roiling bay. Balke has an interesting story because he’s only of late become something of a cult figure – after his early artistic career failed to pay a wage he became a politician and then a real estate developer. Even in those days this was a far better and more reliable way to make a living! But he carried on painting in private and now his small experimental studies attract a large following.

This is a wonderful little exhibition that’s well worth a visit if you are in town with a spare half hour. Forests Rocks Torrents is quick to get around and offers a beautiful view of the European landscape when it was still pretty much an untamed wilderness, long before the days of ski resorts and Alpine hiking. Then, as now, it was something to look upon in admiration and awe, whatever your beliefs. Full information in my listings.

Categories ,Alexandre Calame, ,Alpine, ,Alps, ,Arco Naturale, ,Asbjørn Lunde, ,At Handeck, ,Capri, ,Chalets at Rigi, ,Christopher Riopelle, ,European Landscape Art, ,exhibition, ,Forests Rocks Torrents, ,Haslital), ,Hobbit, ,Johan Christian Dahl, ,Knud Andreassen Baade, ,Menhir, ,Mountain Torrent before the Storm (The Aare River, ,Mountains, ,Mountainscapes, ,Norway, ,Peasants, ,Peder Balke, ,review, ,Robert Zund, ,Sarah Herring, ,Study of a Rock from Nystuen on Filefjell, ,Sunley Room, ,Switzerland, ,The Lower Falls of the Labrofoss 1827, ,The Lunde Collection, ,The Mountain Range ‘Trolltindene’, ,The National Gallery, ,Thomas Fearnley, ,Viking, ,Wagnerian, ,Wilderness

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