Scarlet Woman

Reddress: A Finnish fashion story

Text by Naomi Bikis

The story goes that one day back in 2004, artist Aamu Song showed her husband, Johan Olin a tiny sketch where a giant red sea-dress-monster was eating small people around her. He assumed it was simply a pretty illustration. But Olin was wrong. Later, he discovered Song was planning to turn this drawing into a 20 metre wide, 1.5 ton interactive installation that would tour the world. For its UK debut, Reddress comes to London. Song, hailing from Korea and Olin, from Finland are Company, a design duo based in Helsinki. They work as artists, designers and producers and run their own shop, Salakauppa (Secret Shop). Known for unorthodox but practical designs, they aimed to close the gap between musician and audience. In swathes of red, a single performer stands wearing folds of fabric while 238 audience members tuck themselves under its hem. "Reddress is the result of guessing how prehistoric people would enjoy music and togetherness," Song suggests. Taking 97 days to sew, it premiered at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in 2005. It has since visited Germany, Norway and The Netherlands. Coinciding with London's annual Design Festival, Bethnal Green's York Hall will host Reddress. Although the duo remain tight-lipped about who London can expect to see, past performances suggest that audiences are in for a treat. "In Berlin, we wanted to listen to more music after the concert so we didn't unzip the tenor, Yosep Kang. He sang more and more and the audience were almost dancing under the dress. Some shed tears during another touching concert by choir, Grex Musicus. When one starts to cry, more cry as every audience member can see each other," Olin explains. "Reddress turns adults into kids. And men always have the need to take a quick look under the hemline of the dress…"

Reddress is at York Hall, London, from September 22-25.

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