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Young Designer of the Year 2023 is fashion designer Henna Lampinen

The designer, who graduated from Aalto University's fashion MA programme, believes that fashion should be more accessible.
Vuoden nuori suunnittelija Henna Lampinen ja kaksi XL_mallia Kuva: Mortti Saarnia
Designer Henna Lampinen in the middle. Photo: Mortti Saarnia

Henna Lampinen, a designer who recently graduated from Aalto University, has won the Young Designer of the Year 2023 competition. Lampinen's competition collection includes outfits in size 54. The clothes are made largely from recycled materials such as leather jackets, silk shirts and pearl buttons.

 "Clothing sizes and their variation often make us feel body shame. When I was designing competition clothes, I wondered how to make clothes that would be more malleable to the changes in the body, but still luxurious. The knitwear and the crinkled fabrics made of silk that I see in my work are like this. They would give the body more peace to be and to live," says Henna Lampinen.

Henna Lampisen vaatemallistoa. Kuva: Mortti Saarnia
Photo: Mortti Saarnia

Young Designer of the Year wants to challenge design practices

 "In her winning entry, Henna Lampinen challenges the way the fashion market designs and sells clothes for plus-size women. Big Girls, Great Girls or Big & Beautiful... With her stunning work, Lampinen showed the jury that the days of these euphemisms for obesity in fashion are over. Instead of reflecting on our own size and feeling ashamed, we need to take pleasure in dressing," says Jaakko Selin, journalist and chairman of the jury of the Young Designer of the Year 2023 competition.

Lampinen's collection exposes prejudices and ponders how they can be overcome. "Fashion should be accessible to all bodies, no matter what size you are. At the moment, this is not happening in the fashion industry in any way. I would argue that if obesity didn't have such a strong stigma in our society, the selection in stores, for example, would be very different, both in terms of quantity and style," says Lampinen, adding, "I think these are pretty big grievances that should be challenged in design."

Henna Lampisen mallistoa. Kuva: Mortti Saarnia
Photo: Mortti Saarnia

Lampinen's interest in fashion and design came from personal experience

 "I couldn't find nice clothes that would fit. I was interested in counter-cultural clothing. That's how I ended up studying to become a costume designer and eventually at Aalto University. Now I don't make things for myself anymore, but my interest in fashion has remained strong."

Lampinen also faced the challenges as an Aalto student. "The ideal of thinness is terribly strong in fashion. It's a force that moves the whole industry really strongly and excludes all kinds of bodies from fashion spaces. As a student, I have found that its influence has also accentuated my own sense of being an outsider, as my body in no way fit the norm of the industry."

Lampinen made her BA collection in size 36, which is generally considered a model size, and won the top prize in the 2019 Designer's Nest competition at the Copenhagen Fashion Week. Soon after, she became anxious about producing an ideal she could not identify with. While working on her master's thesis, she ended up working on various projects to make clothes for different sizes and specifically for fat bodies, which also brought peace of mind in relation to the fashion industry.

 Designing clothes for obese bodies has presented some surprising challenges. The necessary tools such as mannequins and patterns were not always available, but had to be requested separately.

 "I have been pleased that when I have asked, Aalto University has taken these needs into account. It has been really encouraging."

Henna Lampisen mallistoa. Kuva: Mortti Saarnia
Photo: Mortti Saarnia

Lampinen hopes that Finland will start to question more boldly the conventions that the fashion industry has about the body. She also wants to challenge these conventions and, for example, fatphobia in her own design work. She hopes that winning the Young Designer of the Year 2023 competition will bring new opportunities for collaborative projects on the topic. Longer-term plans include a PhD.

The Young Designer of the Year competition has been held since 1995. The jury includes journalist and jury chairman Jaakko Selin, fashion artist Ritva Falla, creative director Martta Louekari, fashion ambassador Taru Marjamaa, fashion designer Hammi Mettinen, fashion designer Katri Niskanen, stylist and fashion journalist Nina Nuorivaara, editor-in-chief of Gloria magazine Kristiina Raitala and fashion designer Mari Talka.

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