Bode Our Exclusive Designer Interview
BY KRISTINE KELLER, CFDA
Emily Bode is contributing to the New York Fashion Week: Men’s emerging history book as one of the first female designers to showcase her collection. Of this, she says she is excited to pave the way for other female designers.
My advice to women is to be proud you’re a female. You have an amazing gift – you are able to help women break into a male-dominated industry and mold it into something more reflective of our contemporary society. Use your voice to stand up for yourself, your beliefs, and the other people you believe in.
It’s a fitting moment in time, since history is woven into the designer’s eponymous menswear line. “I am drawn to the importance of craft and the nostalgia of traditional textiles,” she explains of her focus on fabrics such as handmade quilts from late 19th through early 20th century, and printed cottons from the 1930s and 1940s, including grain sacks and tablecloths. “I aim to source fabrics with emotional and historical value that are appreciated for their past and elements of design, but have sometimes been forgotten,” she says.
Though she draws from such unconventional sources of fabric, she emphasizes a “pragmatic approach to making menswear that is timeless and wearable.” She also wants her clothing to be comfortable – “I’ve had two clients reach out and tell me they fell asleep in their coats for the night,” she recalls. This makes sense given many pieces are made from bedding, such as Edwardian quilts and children’s bedspreads from the 1960s.
The designer’s interest in fashion started as a child growing up in the South, collecting antiques and textiles with her mother and aunts. Bode has always been inspired by traditional menswear, especially boxy cuts and boyish details. After interning for venerable fashion houses such as Marc Jacobs, she “realized that my true desire was to fulfill my own vision and brand.” Her Aha moment for this vision came when she began to sample for Bode. She used one of the antique quilts she collected for a trouser, and from then on, she knew she wanted to focus on one-of-a-kind garments cut from antique textiles.
For a designer with a proclivity for the past, she is especially forward-thinking. “Fashion encompasses and reflects our entire culture, from aesthetics to globalization, technology, gender, the current political climate, and more,” she says. “Being a designer allows me to express my own knowledge and question our ideals, conventions, and associations.”
Bode says her dream customer values authenticity. “He is explorative and interested in his own culture and distinct traditions that shape his lifestyle.” She adds that “New York Fashion Week: Men’s will be the first time seeing my garments on so many people at once, in one space, in motion.”
After this season, there is bound to be a legion of new Bode fans eager to join this movement.