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Finland’s biggest dress party

Finland’s biggest dress party is not a Finnish version of Oscars or some other gala. It is the Independence Day Reception, “Linnan juhlat” (eng. The Castle ball), at the Presidential Palace hold on the independence day evening. Why it can be called as the biggest dress party in Finland? That question I was asking and looking for the answers last spring when writing my master’s thesis about the role of women’s appearances at the Independence Day Reception.

During the reception, the President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö shakes hands with approximately 1600-2000 guests together with First Lady Jenni Haukio. Then there is coffee and dance. The handshaking is, however, the most followed part of the Independence Day Reception. Every year over 2.5 million Finns, which means almost every other Finn, gather around television or online broadcasts to watch the reception.

The reception is tightly followed by different media and widely present in social media as well. The reception gets the biggest media coverage compared to other national events. One of the main topics on media, before, during and after the reception, is guests’ appearances. What the guests are going to wear is speculated on tabloids and online media before the event. Guests and designers are sharing sneak peeks of the dresses on their own channels and commenting starts. Speculation and discussion continue during and after the reception when the audience is also engaged to take part in the discussion by live voting for the “queen of the castle” etc. Because of the media coverage, the reception can be said to be the biggest dress party in Finland. It is good to remember that the reception is not a masquerade only about the dresses, it is held to celebrate Finland’s independence.

In addition to the media’s influence on why the reception can be called Finland’s biggest dress party, I was studying the meanings behind the dresses. What kind of stories the dresses have to tell, how the values of the guest might be presented in the dress, what is the role of designers? I think the stories behind the dresses and how the dresses can be used as communication tools is really interesting. About the values, sustainability and recycling have been growing theme on dresses during the last years. Furthermore, the Finnishness in dresses was also studied. Finnishness can be seen on the dresses as inspiration for the silhouettes, materials and/or labour. Especially for young Finnish designers, the reception is an amazing opportunity to show their talent. Can’t wait to get that opportunity myself one day and see #viivilaakkonen on the red carpet!

Finland’s independence day is celebrated tomorrow on the 6th of December. This year Finland is turning 101 years. Since I live in Sweden, I’m going to work normally but then in the evening, I’m gathering with some of my friends to celebrate Finland and to watch the Independence Day Reception. Can’t wait to see all the dresses and moreover to hear the stories behind them.

If you got interested in Finland’s way to celebrate independence and/or in Independence Day reception and/or dresses in there, you can read my master’s thesis “Finland’s Biggest Dress Party – A Study of the Role of Women’s Appearances at the Independence Day Reception” and watch the live broadcast from Presidential Palace tomorrow at 18.55 Finnish time (17.55 Swedish time), here. I will do another post next week about the dresses we will see at the reception tomorrow.