Backstage at Bode Fall/Winter 2018
Backstage at Bode Fall/Winter 2018
- Words Christopher Fenimore
- Date February 6, 2018
Pronounced boh-dee, it’s founder and designer Emily Bode’s family turned brand name. She starts with fabric sourcing and builds from there, and though she chooses anything from couch upholstery to vintage quilts for her base, her collections are both cohesive and aptly her. Nothing about her brand is contrived, and her vision is refreshing break from the trend-driven madness that is NYFW. I dare you to find me a seasoned editor or buyer who is excited about NYFW’s current iteration and roster. And while that might be tough, I can promise you they all attend Bode’s presentations and are taken with it each time. It’s a favorite among menswear insiders, and it’s soon to be a favorite of yours, too.
Between the clothing and the set design, her presentations take her own nostalgia and memories and imprint them on you. At her presentations you feel warmth. She casts a blend of models and real people, and this adds to the effect that this is more than just a fashion show and more than just a commodity. Bode Fall/Winter 2018 is whimsical and relaxed. None of the silhouettes are too slim, and literally every piece in the show looks comfortable enough to sleep in. The collection is made here in America, with the exception of some embroideries and quilting that are done in India. This collections features similarities to her past ones—paisleys, florals, embroidery, patchwork, gingham and stripes, but this one in particular feels more mature, and a bit more fashion-slanted. In between a bagel and a quick makeup touchup, I talked to Bode about her newest collection and her brand’s progress along the way.
You went to Parsons—I assume what you were doing, or were inspired by, was very different from the crowd you studied with. How did that affect your path to Bode as it stands now?
I think it’s important to experiment in college but I think a lot of it had to do with making clothes that were wearable. I think that I focus more on the individual, like maybe ornamentation on my fabrications, but I really continue to make more workwear inspired shapes, or boxier shapes, and less avant-garde conceptual stuff. We have some more unique shapes this season, but for the most part, I think that’s what also makes Parsons stand out from some of the European schools, is that it is really rooted in American sportswear.
How did Bode come about? Did you always want to be a designer or have your own brand?
Yeah, I think since I was a little kid, I’ve always been drawing clothes. I found journals of mine from when I was little that—I drew different items and I tried to merchandise it and I would write little notes next to it of different colors that it came in. I think I always wanted to be in fashion but I don’t think I knew what that meant, so I used to call it being a stylist.
Where are you from?
I’m from Atlanta, Georgia, and growing up in the South, there’s a certain sensibility to the way people dress—but also the fabrications that I’m attracted to, which are more comfortable and homey. A lot of the fabrics are also from New England, because I spent my summers there, needle-working and quilting.
Is there a theme for your new collection? What inspired you for this one?
It’s a botanist’s childhood. One of my dear friends, who I met in Massachusetts in Cape Cod, is a man who went to Harvard to study Botany and then became a quilt dealer. Since he was a child, he always resold items, like trinkets, antiques, and vintage, so it’s been a part of his life throughout his studies. But I wanted to focus a lot of this collection on memories of his childhood and conversations we’ve had together.
I’ve been to your last two presentations and there’s something deeper to them than your typical fashion presentation—there’s feeling, there’s emotion, a sort of nostalgia. How do you feel approaching fashion in a different way from other designers and brands, let alone those your age?
I think it’s really important to, if you are going to invest in something like doing these presentations and having a company in 2018, do something a little bit bigger and a little bit more culturally relevant. What we try to evoke when you walk in the room is that you are struck with that feeling of comfort and you really see the instances of garments intertwined with your domestic life and with, that are culturally interesting and historically interesting.
Who is the Bode man? Is there a specific way you’d like your brand to be worn or purchased?
He is intrigued and considerate of historical techniques and cultures. He wants to buy clothing the way he buys anything else, but really buys into these individual pieces. We’re not presenting the collection to buy into the entire collection, per se. This individual shirt is so special because of the intrinsic qualities that come with it. It’s so special because it was handmade in the 1920’s or because it has this stitch that I really love. That’s what’s so inspiring about my customers is that when they put on an item, it really makes them feel a certain way and you really change the way that you feel.