Costume designers profession in Finland in the years 1960-1975 : the story about Maija Pekkanen

Leena Juntunen

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisMonograph


The subject matter is the costumer designers’ trade becoming professional and the definition of its validity, in Finland in the years 1960-1975. The need for the theatre costume designer’s profession appeared in about the 1960s. Before that time, planning of dresses was connected to the wardrobe master’s or the set designer’s task field. The change of image from the technical wardrobe master’s experienced work to the artist’s design work was a slow process, for the success of which education was needed. The process of the internal shaping of the profession was examined through surveying an individual development process, that of designer Maija Pekkanen. She was interviewed as regards her socialising process and her own identification to the profession. A hermeneutic case study was utilized to focus on the trade of theatre costume design, along with the application of a qualitative research methodology. Besides the examination of the profession’s history, its contents and the development of occupational identity, the case study also touched upon the social and communal points of view. First, the examination of the materialising of the profession was performed against the background of the profession’s theories and its internal examination adapting the first collective labour agreement of scenography to the qualification theory. In the external examination it becomes clear that the forming of the trade since the year 1967 was a significant phase of development from the point of view of the development of the trade. The edge conditions of work were defined through the collective labour agreement for the first time and the costume designer’s profession became an institution. Secondly, describing socialising, the internalising process of the profession and reaching of the costume designer’s artistic readiness and status, both in work as well as in the communal context and through education, was connected to costume designer Maija Pekkanen, who became a competent clothes designer with an artistic approach and who experienced internalising of the profession. It became clear that the effect of the School of Bratislava, Vysoka Skola Muzickych Umeni v Bratislave, the VSMU, was crucial in the forming of the whole Finnish identity of the costume designer. Altogether eight Finnish designers studied at the VSMU, searching for artistic form to their work and a model of identity for the profession. The education of the VSMU edited a general idea of the costume designer’s professional picture and of working conditions as an artist. Its effect began to be seen in the mid 70s for example through the working on materials and through the whole composition of costumes in the visual and artistic expression of theatrical performances. Maija Pekkanen, who was one of the eight Finnish students and studied the longest at the VSMU, had a significant impact on the materialising of the profession of costume designer. This was because she promoted the development of the terms of employment and working conditions of her trade in the areas of the trade union and also in education.
Translated title of the contributionCostume designers profession in Finland in the years 1960-1975 : the story about Maija Pekkanen
Original languageFinnish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Jämsänen, Auli, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-0030-5
Publication statusPublished - 2010
MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)


  • theatre
  • trade, costume designer
  • expertise
  • profession
  • qualification
  • artist
  • education
  • occupational identity
  • VSMU

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