When Jacqueline Kennedy appeared on the December 26, 1960 cover of Sports Illustrated with her husband, America’s newly elected president, she was wearing a pinkish-red sleeveless, scoop-neck shift. The dress—a flawlessly simple cotton ensemble she found in a Cape Cod shop—and its designer, the small Finnish textile company Marimekko, became overnight sensations. Founded only nine years earlier by husband-and-wife team Armi and Viljo Ratia, Marimekko went on to define the high style of the swinging ’60s with vibrant fabric patterns and daring geometric designs that managed to be well-priced, well-made and chic, all at the same time (who said Michelle Obama started the high-low trend?). The look translated easily to the home, and soon the iconic prints were found on everything from chairs to curtains to coffee mugs.
In the past few years, both ’60s mod and Marimekko have seen a resurgence stateside, the latter thanks in part to the popular stores-within-stores at numerous Crate & Barrels. Now, in celebration of its 60th anniversary, Marimekko will finally establish a U.S. flagship: a 3,700-square-foot store in Manhattan’s Flatiron District. Opening this month in the famous Toy Building (also home to Mario Batali’s megamarket Eataly), the shop will offer classic Marimekko designs and products, but the main focus will be on new collections in progressive patterns and contemporary shapes.
Some of the most gorgeous fall offerings come from Belgian-born, Sweden-based artist Astrid Sylwan, one of the newest members of Marimekko’s design team. Sylwan created a series of three stunning abstract paintings inspired by elements of nature (harsh desert wind, flowing water and the ghost-like light that flutters over a marsh) that have been transferred onto textiles, tableware and bed linens. The painterly quality of the soft blues and blushing pinks seems to harken back to the famous magazine cover that started it all.
Marimekko’s flagship is at 200 Fifth Ave., New York; marimekko.com.