Despite hundreds of millions of #OOTD posts on Instagram, unique personal style is still a rare thing to come by and homogeny can start to make even the most enthusiastic fashion lover experience scrolling fatigue once in a while. That's why I'm always keen for the Who What Wear team to bring you the people, brands, items and styling ideas that feel like a breath of fresh air. One woman I'm excited to see more of in 2019—and I have a strong feeling that you will once more street style photographers cotton onto the fact that she's attending the shows—is Suzanna Gembege.
This darling Finnish fashion stylist and editor is poised to be my 2019 inspiration for many reasons, which I'll explain to you here. 1. She's adept at combining new and old pieces, proving yet again that individuality can often be best achieved when you throw vintage into the equation—a fundamental lesson none of us should ignore. 2. She's not afraid of colour, volume, mad accessories or wearing the unexpected, and yet her ensembles feel approachable, delicate and potentially viable to emulate. 3. She often styles Jared Leto, and we all know he is now the best dressed man on the planet. 4. As a former model she has the grace and stature to pull off almost anything and still look completely perfect in a street style shot—meaning she'll be an excellent subject during those mad fashion month moments where a photographer has to wrestle through crowds and get "the shot" in about 12 seconds. 5. She makes me think Finland might be the next country to establish itself as a fashion player, in the same way Denmark and Sweden have over the past few seasons. And a new source or new vision is always welcome.
We caught up with Suzanna to find out more about her style, so you'll be fully versed in her look too. Keep scrolling to see some of her recent outfits and our exclusive interview.
Style Du Monde
When did you first become a stylist?
I always knew I would work in fashion. I think the seed was planted by my mom who brought fashion to life by describing designs, textiles and materials in the most beautiful ways possible. Storytelling has always been a big part of my life, and styling is one of the many ways to create or tell one's story.
I've always been a fashion-multitasker. At the age of 18 I graduated from a business college, worked as a marketing assistant at a modeling agency where I got to work with the first season of Finland's Project Runway. That was my first job in the fashion industry. After that I did a few internships, went to get a bachelor's degree in journalism, got a job as a web editor, styled international editorials, and was signed as a model.
My passion for storytelling and styling evolved as I got deeper into the fashion industry. I started working as a regular contributor and a fashion week reporter for ELLE Finland and that was the time when I really found styling. I have been familiarising myself with designs and collections all my career so it felt like a natural step.
What is the aesthetic you think brands, celebrities and magazines are hiring you for?
I think my background has affected my aesthetic. I've been based in many countries such as Finland, France and Italy. I love the balance between minimalistic lines and vibrant prints. I think people come to me for a fun, quirky, edgy, eye-catching yet effortless aesthetic.
I'm very fond of exploring the DNA of a clothing by researching and looking into the seams of a clothing. I think my selective use of brands is also one of the reasons for hiring.
How would you describe your personal style?
I'm always in the mood for details, eye-catching colors, and texture combinations. I favor looks that have a interesting shape or print. I'am abit of a tomboy, so I love masculine, oversized and boxy silhouettes. Clean lines and simplicity projects my geographical location alot, so I tend to incorporate these elements to my style. To ensure a considered approach to my look I add detailed vintage jewelry. My style has always consisted of something old and something new, which I think has become my signature look.
I think colour can be worn all year around. Right now I'm coveting all things Rianna+Nina. A brand that uses luxury vintage fabrics for their one-of-a-kind garments. They also make incredible vintage inspired multicolored prints of their own.
Have you always been into vintage?
I'm a bit of an old soul who loves the past eras of fashion and a great treasure hunt. When I was a teenager I spent arguably too much time at second hand stores because it was overly expensive to express myself through retail bought clothes; plus they weren't unique pieces and didn't speak to me in terms of inspiration.
Recycling has been a part of my life as long as I remember. That must of be one of the many things that led me to pre-loved clothing.
Finland's vintage scene has always been great in the sense that you can find amazing quality with a fraction of a price compared to the vintage stores abroad, especially when it comes to quality linen, cotton and wool pieces. Spending countless hours at these treasure troves has taught me how to spot the best finds.
We're talking a lot about sustainability at the moment and shopping vintage is a great solution, so what would you top tip be for finding something cool?
I think shopping pre-loved items is a great option for ethical fashion. I think the coolest things in vintage stores are essentially the ones that have been kept in great quality. Inspect the item inside and out. A great piece can be revealed by looking at the lining and the seams. That is important if you want to do some alterations. Research the stores that are popular amongst stylists and fashion editors to know which ones to go to.
Vintage shops may be abit overwhelming, so I scale the amount down by pulling out only the pieces that are based on my main criteria; material, quality and print.
What is the Finnish fashion vibe, and does your style reflect the country you're based in?
The Finnish fashion vibe is very Scandi-chic. It is dominated by clean silhouettes and minimalistic timepieces. Finnish designers strive to have a ethical approach which was seen during this year's Helsinki Fashion Week - only sustainable designers were showcased. I think my style reflects the Finnish aesthetic in the sense of practicality and minimalistic shapes. Helsinki is very unique, and there is a incredible amount of talent within the field of young designers. I try to incorporate their designs even when styling clients.
What is going to be your go-to outfit for this autumn/winter?
Practicality is key in the Nordics during autumn/winter. I'm very much into the boxy utilitarian-chic look with a tonal palette. I polish the look with sleek silhouettes such as printed vintage silk scarves. Winter is one of my favorite seasons in terms of styling because I get to be creative with different kinds of layering.
This Austrian brand's hats feel more approachable than many.
A vintage gem.
Each of these is one of a kind.
Statement earrings never die.
These are printed in Helsinki.
They just don't make sunglasses like this any more.
A cool young Finnish brand that's picking up UK stockists.
If you're looking for western boots, try pre-loved ones for extra personality.
This can be worn plainly or in the most complicated way—it's surprisingly versatile.
Buy it a size bigger and you'll get the Suzanna vibe.
Next up, how to accessorise like a Scandi girl.