Tuomas Merikoski instills within AALTO a solid Finnish influence. Though based in the City of Light, the designer draws from his own personal experiences to explore the concept of what constitutes a Finnish identity, both in the past and present. Delving into his Spring/Summer 2017 offerings, there is a contrast between what might be associated with a traditional ethnic art versus Finland’s globalized youth culture. Storybook-like knit embroidery, illustrative imagery and an absolutely droll pastoral print all seem like reminders of the northern European country’s rich heritage. Pitted against these livelier elements are garments that embody asymmetric minimalism and overarching trends of the fashion season (namely knotted techniques, velvet, camisole necklines and denim jacket silhouettes). Naturally, the pieces that stole the show incorporated the best of both AALTO’s dichotomous facets. The closing number was a printed off-shoulder frock embellished with a massive, knotted bow. If size wasn’t enough to garner attention, the fact that it was layered over a ubiquitous Polo shirt sealed the deal. AALTO took an assertive and almost confrontational approach in the way it handled opposing elements of its design. And though it might be polarizing, it’s sure to gain a hefty number of fans who enjoy Merikoski’s dynamic expression of ethnic identity and it’s evolution over time.