How Helsinki Airport turned into an international catwalk


On a warm and sunny May 24th evening, Helsinki Airport’s Runway 2 set the scene for a highly original fashion event – Match Made in HEL. 

Three hundred fifty well-dressed guests attended this show-stopping spectacle organized by Finnair and Finavia to highlight Helsinki Airport’s fast connections between Asia and Europe. Shortly after 8 pm the music started and the show began, as a line of tall models descended the air-stairs from the parked airplane at the foot of the runway that doubled as backstage for the 51 international models. As per etiquette, after the seven collections had been presented, all of the models walked out onto the runway against the highly original backdrop of the airplane to rounds of applause.

Finnair’s Blue Wings magazine was on hand to witness the transformation of Runway 2 into an international catwalk. Below we share some of the highlights.

First up in the bright evening light – this far north the sun doesn’t set until close to midnight – a group of models strutted down the runway wearing a selection of decadent yet feminine dresses from Bora Aksu’s spring-summer 2016 collection in dazzling colours such as yellow, raspberry, and white. 

Next, in lovely masculine contrast to Aksu’s feminine shapes, the Sankuanz label by Xiamen-based Shanguan Zhe showed puffy street-smart jackets and trousers from the label known for its youthful energy mixed with cultural commentary. 

This was followed by Dane Henrik Vibskov’s bold abstract geometric prints from his fall 2016 collection worn by models wearing wooden puppet heads.

Swedish Anders Haal’s eponymous label featured leggy young men and women moving down the runway in smart street-wear with an edge of surfer chic. 

Haal’s collection provided the perfect transition for South Korean Hyien Seo’s biker snowboarder looks with a slightly military feel. 

Finn Heikki Salonen’s deliciously deconstructed couture for men and women featured models wearing rain boots to the tune of a song about wearing rubber boots.

Tokyo’s Arashi Yanagawa presented pieces from his John Lawrence Sullivan label named for the famous boxer with a collection of tailored formal and casual menswear. 

In addition to the revered designers, many of whom boast cult-like followings, the models on the runway included Finnish superstar Saara Sihvonen whose credits include Balmain, Chanel and YSL. 

Among the well-known international models in the show was Magdalena Jasek, whose striking features are familiar to many from her editorial work for Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Harpers Bazaar and V Magazine among others. Malian-Sengalese Paris-based Nala Diagouraga modelled a Bora Aksu white sleeveless dress that was instantly Instagrammed by 5inchandup blogger Sandra Hagelstam, who has 83,000 followers. 

Many major Asian magazines were in attendance including Marie Claire Hong Kong, Vogue Korea, InStyle Korea and Vogue China. Leaf Greener, a Shanghai-based fashion editor, consultant and founder of mobile LEAF WeChat magazine, has 100,000 Instagram followers. Greener was impressed by Anders Haal’s collection and Instagrammed a runway picture with the text: “A cool brand needs (an) attention!”

A longer version of this article was originally published in Finnair's Blue Wings magazine (Summer 2016).

Text by Katja Pantzar
Photos by Juha Salminen

Relive the event


Published June 20, 2016

Category: Local features