For Fashion Week, the family archivist emerges from the attic
If much of fashion operates at hectic warp speed, Emily Adams Bode of Bode is the slow-going exception to the rule.
She is 28, but an old 28. While many of her peers, including those showing alongside her this week during New York Fashion Week: Men’s, are scrambling, Bode’s pace is slower. Five floors above Clinton Street, in her warrenlike studio and apartment, Bode has her stockpiles and her scissors, and operates more like a midcentury dressmaker than many of her fellow designers. Her business, only a year old, is still heavily weighted toward private clients; she has, at the moment, designs in two stores in Japan and one in Vancouver, British Columbia. She has to keep her reach small, she explained: her collection is built around vintage, antique and deadstock fabrics that she finds, from heirloom family quilts to African country cloths, and they are not infinitely extensible.
“This is an early-1900s quilt,” she said, taking one jacket by the sleeve. “This is it. It’s just one. People love that. There was not a machine stitch in this quilt before we put it together.”
Bode grew up antiquing with her mother and aunts. There is not much that she won’t consider as raw material for her collection: bed linens and vinyl upholstery, quilts and tapestries. For her new collection, shown Thursday, she road-tripped through the south of France, stopping at flea markets and country houses along the way.
“We ripped mattress covers off,” she said, pointing to a pair of striped jackets. “They had all the filling in them — the feathers and everything. It was a nightmare, it went everywhere. But they have this beautiful weight to them.”
She has also begun using the clothes to tell family stories. Her new collection takes up the life of an 83-year-old great-aunt in the south of France, whom she visited in her country home, staying in the attic.
“I have aunts that call me the family archivist,” she said.
Designer Emily Bode in her Lower East Side studio.