One of the most important events for up-and-coming and established creative talent in Estonia, Tallinn Fashion Week, begins tonight in Kalamaja's Salme Culture Center.
The event will bring a chance to view the work of potential future stars in Estonian fashion design, while, in contrast to last year's lower-profile event, TFW 2014 sees a complement of well-known names take part in shows, with the winner of the ultimate prize, the Golden Needle award, announced tonight in recognition of great achievements in fashion over a five-year period.
A Silver Needle will also be awarded to a designer, for achievement over the past 12 months. The Silver Needle nominees are Vassilissa Danavir, Marit Ilison and Triinu Pungits. The Golden Needle nominees are Lilli Jahilo, Kriss Soonik and Kristina Viirpalu.
The probable highlight of the elongated four-day schedule is the return of designer Ivo Nikkolo to Tallinn Fashion Week. Nikkolo has been at the vanguard of Estonian fashion design since founding his company in 1994. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of his label, Nikkolo will be displaying creations from his forthcoming collections, taking part in the event for the first time in many years. Press officer Lenno Vaitovski reflected the positive spirit of the event organizers, saying, "of course we're excited - I think the whole of Estonia is excited, he's one of the best-known names in Estonian fashion, and it's great to have him here."
In spite of its name, Tallinn Fashion Week has historically had a three-day program. Due to an increased number of shows, there will be one extra day of shows this time around. "We simply couldn't accommodate the schedule in three days; you've seen our program is full," Vaitovski explained.
On the fourth day, Sunday, the circus will decamp from Salme to Tallinn's Seaplane Harbor, known as Lennusadam in Estonian. Vaitovski was positive about the possibilities offered by the vast hangar making up the museum. "It didn't present complications, but rather opportunities, as it gave us a chance to accommodate more people than would be the case in Salme, because Lennusadam is a larger space."
Making her debut at Fashion Week is up-and-coming local designer Aulikki Puniste, who was in the middle of rehearsals for her event-opening show tonight, when ERR News spoke to her. "I have some models that are in masks," Puniste explained, "and there were some technical problems with the masks, so I hope it will be okay."
Puniste explained the concept behind using masks in her show. "It's about people wearing a kind of mask in everyday life - at home you are friendly, but at work you put on the other mask. The point is to take off the mask and be you - be honest, don't be some kind of different person, because in everyday life there is a lot of hypocrisy, and I hate hypocrites."
The collection, which the designer said was entirely in black and white, will be modeled by her friends and customers, including Estonian pop singer Helen Adamson. For Puniste, her first appearance at Tallinn Fashion Week is the latest step in eight years as a fashion designer, which began with an appearance in the final round of predecessor fashion event Supernova. Asked why she had chosen 2014 as the time to take part in TFW, Puniste said she had not felt ready before now, "I'm still learning and everything has to be at the right time." Designers from all over Estonia will hope that this weekend represents their time to shine.