Can you describe what its like to be a woman making menswear, particularly one of a kind?
As a woman making men's clothing, I am able to step back from making garments for myself as a customer, and look at what that client wants. I am able to reflect on what my relationship to fabrication and beauty is versus a masculine approach- and how that alters my practice. I enjoy reflecting and interpreting on the social norms of menswear. Because most of my collection is one-of-a-kind, I can put extra attention on the individual item. There is more emphasis on perfecting garments, as standing alone, than on perfecting the collection. This way I can focus on using fabrics for what I initially intended them for, instead of quickly trying to round out a collection by making sure I have "three styles in one fabric group" as you typically would see with a seasonal company.
You use some very special textiles, are you a collector?
I am a collector of many things, but try to accumulate textiles and produce clothing at a balanced rate. I want to make the beautiful useful again – what were both labors of love - practical in the home and in creation, and what was solely for decoration – have a new function. I don't want to be a collector in that I am defined as only curating a collection for myself. I also collect to re-make that lost utility, to make that something from nothing, worthy of reflecting upon as useful and beautiful at the same time.
Do you think there are limitations in menswear, and there is some duty to combat the uniformity, perhaps bring some passion and elegance into wearing men’s clothes?
I definitely try to talk about menswear in a way that is not necessarily the dominant culture of masculinity. This would most certainly be a duty of mine as a designer of clothes and curator of a men's wardrobe. Many of my fabrics incorporate female historical practices and craft making. For instance, I use quilts made of floral scraps, and tablecloths with floral embroideries. Because my silhouettes are quite traditional, I have yet to see limitations. But I do have a very pragmatic approach to making menswear, and would never veer from my philosophy of making clothes that people will actually wear and wear again. People are responsive and passionate about my clothing not only because the shapes are wearable, but because the fabrication is innately recognizable. I enjoy my customer's excitement about owning and wearing a pair of quilted pants when he has his grandmother's quilt at the end of his bed. Bode allows men to be passionate and dress with elegance because of the nature of the company. With history embedded in the garments, the passion naturally comes from that reflection of past experience and memories. The elegance comes from the clean lines of the silhouette, the hand-tailored aspect of the garment, and the intrinsic exclusivity.
Where do you draw inspiration from? What is your process like?
I am primarily inspired by the fabric itself; each found antique quilt or yardage of dead stock upholstery inspires a particular piece. The styles and silhouettes are very much taken from the men who inspire me to dress other men. Apart from my friends, I would say archived photographs of Hermann Hesse and his friends, Alain Delon in Purple Noon, and quick snapshots of underground 1980s bands have always been at the top of my list. After I perfect my silhouettes and patterns, I organize fabrics in bundles of what they will be made into. From there, I mark out the placement of the pattern on each fabric piece, and work with my tailor to create each garment. Nothing leaves the studio until everything is archived and photographed individually.
Do you think your brand could help the wearer maybe gain some collective conscious of culture and aesthetics?
Of course. I aim to assist in consumer authenticity. To strive for an aesthetic understanding through the practice of dressing and the ritual of choosing how you present yourself to others and build your lifestyle. I want my brand to provide this sense of unity, that how you build your wardrobe reflects what you read, discuss, and how you make your bed. The goal would be to seamlessly unify the worlds of the consumer and aesthete. Bode (the wear-ability and the fabrics used) allows the consumer to reflect, and interpret those historical notions and unexpected masculinity, and construct his own intentional style he is moved to create.
Is that lost in Fashion today, or has the internet and post modernity challenged identity to the point that identity is linear with trend?
People who dress solely on trend are not speaking to a refined aesthetic taste or judgment. This is not any different today than it was in the French courts. I want people to be intentional with the way they dress, as with any other practice in their life. You should be as reflective on your aesthetic understanding of clothing as you are with what you listen to at home. There is an interesting idea of legitimizing your own cultural understanding and intentions through dressing and object orientation.
What about jewelry for men? What’s your take?
I would say yes to jewelry for men, but that the simpler the better. My best friend wears a bracelet that is representative of his Sikh heritage, and this standing alone in his wrist speaks more to his style and culture than a handful of rings would. I love the intentionality of the male jewelry wearer. It is seemingly much rarer to find men across all ages who wear jewelry that is solely based on trend.
Do you wear jewelry yourself?
I am a huge wearer of jewelry. Most of my pieces are family heirlooms, such as a 1920's Freemason gold band or my mother's wedding band made my by aunt- a master goldsmith. However, I still mix and match antique and modern. Usually this happens with what I place on my ears- I have quite a few piercings.
What’s your personal style like?
My personal style is synonymous with my brand: Clean, traditional silhouettes made up of crafty Americana mixed with European Bohemia. I blend handicrafts with tailored wear... I would describe my style as boyish with ornamentation.
Do you experiment with style, or are you uniformed?
My experimentation with style comes from my constant sourcing of new fabrics and inspirational vintage. However, I have a recognizable style, and perhaps this would read as a uniform of sorts, depending on who is being asked. I don't feel like I stylistically dress differently than I did 10 years ago, but the pieces themselves have phased in and out. I do have a traditional uniform of a Martiniano shoe, a 1940s long sleeve white button-up, and a rotation of black high-waisted trousers when I'm at my busiest.
Future plans for Bode?
We have some interesting collaborations in the works, and an eCommerce site launching soon. Additionally, items will be available to purchase globally in select stores for the new year.