It has been predicted that there's going to be Northern Lights in Levi soon. So take a look skywards! Prediction provided by Sunsää.
Designer Jukka Puljujärvi spent his childhood in wilderness village near Levi. The gutsy boy fought his way to the top of the fashion world.
Who designed that?
What kind of a label is that?
When hálo’s clothes started to appear being worn by Finnish A-list celebrities last autumn, there was quite a stir. Everyone wanted to know who was behind the designs. The clothes combined Nordic aesthetics, high fashion and quality materials in a manner never before seen. The clothing exuded everything that is Lapland: tranquillity, purity and originality.
The brand was officially launched during spring and the success story continues: hálo’s clothes have gained attention especially in Asia with already twelve stockists carrying the label.
Why hasn’t anyone come up with a similar recipe for success before?
To have come up with something like this, you’ve had to have lived the life of designer Jukka Puljujärvi.
JUKKA COMES FROM A LINEAGE of nomadic Sámi people. He lived his childhood in the village of Pulju in the wilderness near Levi. The village is situated between two lakes and you can see the summit of Pulju fell from the windows. The village was the home of Jukka and his 24 relatives. The closest shop was in Levi and the family often spent time in the village.
- Levi was the place to hang out and meet people, Jukka says.
The dirt road between the two villages was soon paved according to the wishes of Urho Kekkonen, the President of Finland. The story goes that Kekkonen spent a lot of time in Lapland and even stayed over at Jukka’s grandmother’s house.
- There is a photo of Kekkonen sitting by the table and shaking hands with my uncle.
There was nothing to do in the village except for spending time in the nature: Jukka would take the canoe out on the rivers, or drive up and down the fells with a snowmobile. He was also a member of the local art club. Artist Reijo Raekallio was their teacher and he took them to Reidar Särestöniemi’s studio. The location and the paintings left a lasting impression on Jukka.
When Jukka and Marta Valovirta, thirty years after that visit, decided to set up their own clothing label Jukka immediately knew Reidar’s paintings would be a part of it.
Now hálo has the exclusive rights to use Reidar’s paintings in their prints. A painting called Yksiöinen jää (meaning ice formed overnight) is used in a silk kimono, shirt and trousers. Yössä kukkii kummat kukat (meaning peculiar flowers bloom in the night) is part of the latest collection lending its vivid colours to pieces such as a kimono jumpsuit.
- Its colours remind me of autumnal colours.
HÁLO’S COLLECTION follows the aesthetics of the Lapland nature and seasonal variations.
The clothes in the Kaarna line (meaning bark) have fringes reminiscent of usnea growing on trees. Jukka often marvelled at that as a child.
- Lake Puljujärvi had a hilly peninsula with holes in the ground, it looked weird, somehow reminding me of Moominvalley. The trees were covered in usnea, even the birch trees.
The Kajo line (meaning gleam of light) represents the moment when light starts to appear slowly after a dark, long season painting the sky pink and blue: the clothes have the colour of the spring sky and the sun rays beaming through the trees have taken the form of pleats.
- That’s my favourite time of the year in Lapland, Jukka says.
- There is still a lot of snow weighing down the tree branches but during the day light starts to appear. There is complete darkness during the night and the Aurora Borealis is the most beautiful.
- Deeply rooted in Lapland’s cultural heritage Jukka tells how he used to lay in the snow as a child and gaze up at the Northern Lights. The village elders had forbidden whistling during the phenomena as it would upset the spirits. Yet, Jukka whistled.
- And the Northern Lights became restless.
Jukka takes the Ruska (meaning autumnal colours) coat off the rail. The jacquard has a Japanese feel to it but instead of cranes and cherry flowers you see Lapland’s native birds and flora: the grouse, the cloudberry flower and the jay.
- The jay is Lapland’s hunters’ best friend. Sámi people also believe that when the huntsman passes away, the soul transfers into a jay. Grouse, on the other hand, means literally joy.
Hálo’s clothes are filled with similar stories and meanings. Even though on the surface they appear to be minimalist high-end fashion, they are deeply rooted in Lapland’s cultural heritage.
Jukka says that is exactly what he wants to do with hálo. To tell stories about Lapland. To share what it has meant to him. Stillness, tranquillity, well-being.
- The Lapland nature fills me with energy. Every time I visit north, I climb the summit of a fell. I want to see as far as the eye can see.
Jukka Puljujärvi launched hálo fashion brand in spring 2017 with his friend and ex-colleague Marta Valtovirta. halofromnorth.com
Särestöniemi Museum is situated just around the corner from Levi. Open Tu–Sat 12–18. sarestoniemimuseo.com