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From Jackie Kennedy’s dresses to limited edition Converse trainers, Marimekko, the Finnish textile company famous for its bright, bold prints, has long been making its mark on the design world.

Celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, Marimekko is still going strong and is bigger than ever before. There are already 84 Marimekko stores worldwide, seven of them opening in the last six months alone (four in Europe and three in the United States, including a flagship store on New York’s Fifth Avenue).

Its London presence will be expanding too, with a second store due to open in Shoreditch at the end of next month (the first stand-alone shop is in Marylebone). Add to that the popularity of Surrur, Marimekko’s DIY design book full of patterns and crafty ideas, which had craft bloggers going crazy, and it’s clear that Marimekko is on a high right now.

“One has to dream. And one must stand out from the rest,” was what textile artist Armi Ratia, who founded Marimekko in 1951, famously said at the start of her career. And stand out she did. At a time when the rest of Europe was languishing in the aftermath of the second world war, Ratia injected some much-needed playful, fresh quirkyness back on to the wilting fashion scene; a little post-war light relief.

At the very first Marimekko fashion show held in a hotel in Helsinki, women reportedly “went wild” for her graphic print shift dresses which all sold out on the day itself. The clothes, in their cut, style and colour, were designed to liberate women and heralded a new era. Gone were the 1950s fitted, waist-pinching dresses and in came Marimekko’s loose but crisp, colourful shifts; a shape that’s remained one of the most flattering for many women to this day.

In 1957 a certain Giorgio Armani, who was working as a window dresser for a luxury Italian department store, invited Ratia to display her relaxed cotton shift dresses there. Three years later, Jackie Kennedy bought seven dresses from the then little-known Marimekko brand and was photographed on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine wearing a loose-fitting sleeveless red dress. Jackie Kennedy did for Marimekko what Michelle Obama did for J Crew. You could say the rest is history – or at least it was, up until 1979, when Ratia died.

At this point, the company was passed on to her son, and was almost on the brink of ruin. But guided by the new ownership of feisty businesswoman Kirsti Paakkanen, things changed. She trebled turnover within five years and cleverly marketed the brand as retro and vintage; Carrie Bradshaw donned a Marimekko bikini and dressed her Sex and the City apartment windows in Marimekko curtains. Hey presto, Marimekko was back on the design map.

With a new CEO, former banker Mika Ihamuotila, at the helm, the company continues to thrive. This week, Heal’s is celebrating Marimekko’s 60th anniversary as part of the London Design Festival, with a pop-up shop featuring Marimekko old (that bright reddish-pink poppy print) and new (its more contemporary dot pattern). The autumn Marimekko Converse range is expected to hit the shops very soon; then there’s that second London store opening too. It’s world domination through floral prints and smock dresses.