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Photograph: Elonet

Photograph: Elonet

August 2014 marks the 100th birthday of Finnish actress and beauty queen Ester Toivonen, who was crowned Miss Europe in 1934.

Ester Toivonen was one of Finland’s first bona fide film stars: her career as an actress started in the mid-1930s, a time when Finnish production companies were only beginning to manufacture stars. But Toivonen was already a celebrity before her film career; first of her kind during the era.

A fine comedienne, Ester Toivonen began her film career as the female lead in 1930s modern comedies. In the 1940s, she was seen in supporting roles in historical costume dramas.

My friend Elina Ortamo curated an Ester Toivonen exhibit at the Shopkeeper’s Museum in Hamina, the town where Toivonen was born in 1914. The centenary exhibit focuses on Ester Toivonen as an icon of style and beauty.

My friends and I drove to Hamina to attend the opening of the exhibit earlier this month, which was also attended by Ester Toivonen’s family and friends. Some of the highlights of the exhibit include the ivory gown Ester wore when she was crowed Miss Europe in 1934, her vanity table, fan letters, photographs, and various vintage pieces from the 1930s and 1940s. I’ve loaned my autograph booklet for the exhibit; it features autographs from Finnish film stars of the 1940s, including Ester.

I’m always very happy to see Finnish film history and its stars honoured, and it was done very beautifully here. I like that the focus is on Ester Toivonen’s public image, both as a beauty queen and as a film star. The exhibit was a real treat for me both as a cinephile and a vintage lady. The 19th century setting of the Shopkeeper’s Museum was equally apt.

The exhibit, titled Ester Toivonen – Kansakunnan kaunotar, runs until August 31, 2014. Be sure to catch it if you’re in town! In addition, there will be a film screening and a seminar at Kino Hamina on August 10, where yours truly will be talking about Ester Toivonen’s star image.

A tip for those in Helsinki: Orion will be screening Syntipukki (1935) on July 16. It is Ester’s first starring role and, in my humble opinion, her most interesting as well.

Curator Elina Ortamo posing next to Ester Toivonen's iconic Miss Europe gown

Curator Elina Ortamo posing next to Ester Toivonen’s iconic Miss Europe gown

My autograph book filled with autographs of 1940s Finnish film stars

My autograph book filled with autographs of 1940s Finnish film stars

Fan letters

Fan letters and vintage post cards


The Shopkeeper’s Museum in Hamina

May 25, 2014 Events
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Over Easter in 2013, Jirina and I flew to over to Stockholm for an extended weekend of vintage shenanigans. I wanted to share these gorgeous tattoo designs that date back to the 1920s and 1930s and originate from Denmark. They are the courtesy of Sjöhistoriska museet in Stockholm.

I first saw these designs pop up on my Instagram feed a few months back – and immediately fell in love! Most notably, with the finger waved babe holding the globe. Also, who could resist a badass raven haired dame with a booty, riding a chameleon? I sure can’t. So I knew that I couldn’t miss this “Faith, Hope and Love” exhibition of vintage sailor tattoos at Sjöhistoriska whilst we were in town. I have since decided that the lady with the globe will be my very first tattoo.

The “Faith, Hope and Love” exhibit is open until the end of 2014 so if you’re in Stockholm, it is definitely well worth a visit. All of the text is in Swedish, though, so you would probably get the most out of it with an English speaking guide. In fact, I’d love to see it again with a guided tour as apparently the exhibit features a gender aspect that we didn’t fully grasp because of our less-than-perfect Swedish skills. The images alone, however, are so fascinating! Have a peek right below.

1920s tattoos 1920s tattoos 1920s tattoos 1920s tattoos 1920s tattoos 1920s tattoos



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Welcome to 21st Century Flapper!
My name is Riikka and I hail from Helsinki, Finland. I'm a film researcher and a freelance journalist, a sartorial devotee of vintage fashion and endlessly fascinated by early 20th century visual culture. I write about film, fashion, design, architecture - and all things old and pretty.

Olen helsinkiläinen elokuvatutkija ja toimittaja, jolle 1900-luvun alkupuolen visuaalinen kulttuuri on todellinen intohimo. Blogi sivuaa kiinnostuksen kohteitani 1920- ja 1930-luvun elokuvista aina ajan muotiin ja designiin asti.

Don’t hesitate to say hi or contact in case of any questions at
riikka @ 21stcenturyflapper.com

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