The Champagne Lady has been revealed!
The most iconic poster in the Poster Hunter’s collection is by far The Champagne Lady. This was the poster that started the whole adventure twenty years ago. The poster hung alone in the window of a Helsinki antique shop, just waiting for her savior. There and then, the Poster Hunter was born.
But during all these years, this question has been bothering him: who is this Champagne Lady?
The Poster Hunter knows that he has to get an answer to this, so he took a trip to the western parts of Espoo to meet the artist Jorma Suhonen’s daughter Tuula-Marja (born in 1941). Jorma Suhonen is one of the pioneers of Finnish poster art and he founded the legendary advertising agency SEK (where S stands for Suhonen).
So there we are sitting and casually chatting in a brand new apartment building close by the mall Iso Omena. But the Poster Hunter only has one thought in his head: Who is the lady in the poster?
After a while Tuula-Marja brings out an envelope containing photos in black and white. Studio photos. Stylish exterior images. A woman posing. And finally, she shows a profile picture of the same woman that is in the other pictures as well. Dark wavy hair and stylish, strong features. The photo was taken in 1939.
Tuula-Marja asks: Do you recognize her?
Then, together, with trembling hands, we place the photograph next to the Champagne Lady drawn in 1939. The room is quiet. Far behind the new residential buildings is the Gulf of Finland.
Then Tuula-Marja reveals: The Champagne Lady is my mother!
– Her name was Elna Lydia. She was a colorful person, living a full life: “when it went well, it went really well” and the complete opposite of my father, who had a delicate artist soul.
– She probably decided everything in our household. But my father loved her unreservedly. They had a good relationship, even after they parted.
Who is the lady in the poster?
It is no surprise that Finland became too small for Lydia / the Champagne Lady. Here she had worked in a store, but she wanted significantly more. She was longing for the Big World, and moved to England. There she remarried twice, which meant that Lydia was married a total of four times during her life. This was very rare in the old puritan Finland.
Tuula-Marja shows a guestbook from her childhood home. In the pages of the book we see that the great poster artists in the 1930s and 40s have been spending the evening, drawing, having fun, drinking wine, eating well. The writings are in Finnish, Swedish and English. Being able to touch the pages of a guestbook more than eighty years old is too much for the Poster Hunter. Tears have to be restrained as the past era speaks
Tuula-Marja shows an oil painting hanging on the wall.
– This also pictures my mother. Guess who painted it?
The poster hunter will not be able to digest any more when the information comes:
– Tove Jansson. My parents were good friends with her.
As the Poster Hunter walks away, he is confused and happy. But there is only one mystery left: where exactly does the Champagne Lady sit, enjoying her champagne? Which restaurant is that?
Well, we will find out that in the next letter!
Do you want to meet the stylish Champagne Lady? It’s easily fixed! She is available on posters in different sizes, on a tray, as a fridge magnet, as a coaster, on wooden cards and on postcards.
To pay tribute to her and her contribution to poster art in Finland you now get -20% off all products with her with the code CHAMPAGNE. The offer is valid until October 26th. Cheers to that!