Northern fashion

About the project

“Northern fashion” project showed various ways of working with Finno-Ugric cultural heritage through the prism of the following concepts: authenticity, transformation, awareness. Providing deserving visualisation of Finno-Ugric heritage and demonstrating innovative approach in NPOs operation have proven to be essential parts of the project.

Events of the “Northern fashion” project focused on supporting sustainable Finno-Ugric cooperation in the field of traditional handicraft and contemporary design. All together, the project has accommodated more than 2500 participants. Some of the participants were the project working group, photographers, models, designers, invited experts, craftspeople, ethnocultural centres’ representatives, NPOs, as well as residents and visitors of Karelia. The main beneficiaries of the project are the leaders of ethnic collectives, activists of the ethnic organisations both in Karelia and the Finno-Ugric Russian territories, and the residents of Karelia. The events of the project engaged handicrafters, designers, museum staff, as well as the staff of the ethnocultural centres in Karelia. The project drove immense attention to the issue of the approach to cultural heritage. The events of the project illustrated the care with which tradition should be approached through the prism of modern crafts, design, and visualisation. The “Traditional celebratory costume in Karelia. Late XIX — early ХХ c.” album has become a useful guide for the leaders of ethnic collectives and activists of the national orgaisations in Karelia. The initial funding was enough to issue 200 copies of the album, however, the demand for it far surpasses that number. “Northern transformations: from tradition to contemporary design” exhibition demonstrated the residents and guests of Karelia the precise way contemporary handicraft and design should be applied to museum funds and historical buildings. “In search of Northern Design” conference assisted both handicrafters and designers in increasing their professional expertise. A fashion show brought to us by Finno-Ugric fashion designers as well as designers, who find inspiration in the theme of Russian North. The fashion show was held at the Petrozavodsk Railway Station, which is a fresh and a symbolic concept. Becoming familiar with practices of other regions, as well as demonstrating the ones we have in Karelia have sparked interest in engaging with cultural heritage of Finno-Ugric peoples. As an example, the videos, presenting traditional Karelian costume were posted online, and since then have accumulated over 100.000 views.

The “Traditional celebratory costume in Karelia. Late XIX — early ХХ c.” publication created and issued.

A professional photoset was held specifically for this publication. It includes the opening article, and the pages are provided with short commentary for every clothing ensemble. Each ensemble is accompanied by a set of detail-oriented pictures (features of the garments, items from different angles, or a close-up of a headdress). The album shows 17 traditional clothing ensembles of Kalevalsky, Kemsky, Belomorsky, Medvezhyegorsky, Pudozhsky, Kondopozhsky, and Olonetsky districts in Karelia. These are women’s and men’s ensembles of the Karelians, Lydian Karelians, Livonian Karelians, Lappi Karelians, Pomors, peoples from Pudozh and Zaonezhe. The publication is of use for ethnic collectives, ethnic organisations, and the wider audience. In addition to the issue, we produced videos featuring 17 traditional Karelian ensembles.

“Northern transformations: from tradition to contemporary design” exhibition.

The exhibition presented us with modern pieces, created by handicrafters in collaboration with designers, using blueprints and materials from the museum funds all over Karelia. The key concept was to illustrate the development of tradition and its application to contemporary design. The exhibition clearly communicates that authentic patterns, goods, and knowledge can be recycled and effortlessly fit into the lives and spaces of the contemporary man.

“In search of Northern Design” conference.

The main goal of the conference was to become familiar with Finno-Ugric and Russian practices in the field of design. 100 people took part in the conference altogether: craftspeople and designers from the Komi Republic, Udmurtiya, and the city of Moscow.

A fashion show brought to us by Finno-Ugric fashion designers as well as designers, who find inspiration in the theme of Russian North.

The fashion show was held at the Petrozavodsk Railway Station, with the total of 5 collections presented. The designers range in both technique and ethnic materials, which serve as foundations for the garments.

Photos by Ilona Olkonen

Implementation period: may 2018 — december 2018

The project is implemented with assistance from the Ministry of the Republic of Karelia, which deals with national policies, with connections to voluntary and religious associations, as well as the media


Project participants were ethnocultural centres and craftspeople from the city of Petrozavodsk, Pryazhinsky, Prionezhsky, and Belomorsky districts of Karelia, designers and fashion designers from Finno-Ugric territories, working with the subject of the Russian North. The key events of the project took place in Petrozavodsk.

At all stages, volunteers were involved in the implementation of the project.