Q&A with Tiina Laakkonen of TIINA the STORE in Amagansett

A phenomenon known as “the blue moment” occurs when the sun dips below the horizon in Finland. The calming, ethereal blue light that appears may have influenced Tiina Laakkonen, a well-known fashion stylist with a penchant for the cerulean hue, which she showcases in her Long Island summer collection.

Growing up in the small town of Imatra, Finland, Laakkonen wore clothes made by her mother, who taught her how to sew, knit and crochet. “I first made clothes for my dolls and then later for myself,” she recalled. “I also loved to draw and, from an early age, a lot of my drawings were fashion illustrations.”

At 19, Laakkonen went to Paris to model and study fashion design before assisting at Chanel and Lanvin. She then styled high-end fashion editorials for British Vogue in London. Upon meeting her husband, an Amagansett native, Laakkonen moved to New York where she styled fashion shows, magazine editorials and celebrities like Julianne Moore and Carey Mulligan.

Laakkonen decided to open TIINA the STORE in Amagansett in 2012 to share her singular aesthetic vision. Her focus is on high-quality, unique design versus what she calls “fast fashion.” The cosmopolitan stylist refers to the boutique as her “personal dream closet,” where she curates a mix of artisanal luxury fashion brands and housewares, including items with the famed Finnish Marimekko prints. She also features a special guest room that allows designers to showcase their brands in depth. Laakkonen discussed home décor, fashion, fair trade and her favorite shade of blue.

Long Island Pulse: What summer clothing styles are you seeing from the designers you feature?
Tiina Laakkonen: I know that stripes are a Hamptons classic and we carry our own selection of them. We’ll also have crisp, cotton pieces in vibrant shades of blue; Pippa Small’s ethically-sourced jewelry; cool layers by Dosa and Ancient Greek Sandals.

Pulse: Why is the color indigo such a big part of your lifestyle?
Laakkonen: Blue has always been my favorite color and indigo, in its natural form, is my favorite shade. Indigo has been used in many different cultures around the world for centuries. Navy, indigo and blues look beautiful in the Long Island light.

Pulse: What are your favorite home décor items?
Laakkonen: I love anything handmade—especially the mouth blown glass by Yali from Murano, the graphic rugs by Tikau and Brita, and the luxurious hand-spun, dyed and knit cashmere blankets by The Elder Statesman.

Pulse: You offer socially conscious brands like Toogood, who honored blue-collar workers last year. Is being socially or eco-conscious a requirement?
Laakkonen: I think it’s good to be socially conscious when creating clothing but I don’t use it as a criterion when choosing the brands. Many of our brands are doing interesting things socially: all our Finnish baskets and brushes are made by a non-profit that trains and employs visually impaired people, Tikau is a fair trade company and Dosa has a long history in using fair trade and recycling as a part of their production methods.

Pulse: Who will be showcased in your “special guest” room this summer?
Laakkonen: We have several events and installations planned for this summer: Ancient Greek Sandals, Dosa, The Elder Statesman and jewelry designers Pippa Small and William Welstead.

Pulse: You co-designed some items with Greg Chait of The Elder Statesman in 2014. Any plans for your own line?
Laakkonen: My true love is clothing rather than accessories. I see my own line as a natural addition to the store. Stay tuned…

lisa heffernan

Lisa Heffernan received a master’s in Communications from Emerson College before moving to New York. She has worked for publications such as: Details, Nylon, Rolling Stone, Time Out, Newport Mercury, American Songwriter and W magazine.