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Bode makes 20th-century clothing for 21st-century people

Written by Nick Remsen, CNN

CNN Style is one of the official media partners of Paris Fashion Week. See all covers here.
A few weeks ago, Mick Jagger posted a holiday message on his Instagram feed while wearing a deep red paisley shirt whose pattern swirled with canary yellow and inky black detailing. There was something nostalgically glamorous about the piece: decadent yet comfortable, it suited Jagger’s bohemian rockstar aesthetic as much as his timeless presence. “Maybe he got it for Christmas,” joked Emily Adams Bode Aujla, creator of the garment and founder of the eponymous Bode label, over a Zoom call from Paris.

Since launching her New York City-based brand in 2016, Bode Aujla’s designs – often repurposed from meticulously studied vintage garments – have been spotted on a number of prominent tastemakers including Harry Styles, Jordan Peele, Bruno Mars, the Jonas Brothers and many more . “With his tour,” Bode Aujla said, “(Harry) was signed to Gucci, but he’s one of our most loyal Hollywood clients. He really took us away from the stage. We woke up to paparazzi pictures.” At the same time, Bode has built a sizable base of fashionistas and style-savvy consumers around the world — all for clothes that, she said, revolve around a “sentimentality for the past”.

Harry Styles wore a lace Bode shirt while out with Olivia Wilde in New York City in 2022. Credit: Robert Kamau/GC Images

Examples include: brightly quilted workwear jackets, blousons with 1940s Hungarian appliqués, lightweight camisoles with reproduced prints from 1920s French textile mills, and quirky hand-embellished corduroys (like one featured on Styles in Vogue December 2020). was seen). ). Much of what Bode sells is one-of-a-kind, with garments reinvented from dead fabrics and vintage clothing. The rest exhibits some sort of historical reproduction, right down to what she calls “superconscious” details like buttons or stitching.

Although Bode is relatively down-to-earth, in terms of price it belongs to the luxury category. Currently, quilted jackets cost between $1,000 and $2,000. A pair of socks — two-toned with embroidered flora — will set you back $250.

“We address material and technology,” says the designer. “What we’re doing really refines the idea of ​​preserving the craft. You wouldn’t necessarily think the silhouettes are dated, but there are labor intensive techniques that we put into the clothes that are definitely from another time.”

Bode evokes emotions through the reworked vintage garments and historical reproductions of 20th century clothing.

Bode evokes emotions through the reworked vintage garments and historical reproductions of 20th century clothing. Credit: Victor Virgile/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

An emotional connection

Her clothes resonate with deeply personal, emotional references: much of her creativity is informed by the exploration of memories, family dynamics and home environments – and how she experienced each of these subjects over a period of 32 years primarily in the eastern United States. Bode Aujla was born in Atlanta and spent a significant part of her childhood in Massachusetts (a former family home in Cape Cod, which is no longer in the picture, is prominent in her memory). She was interested in vintage clothing from a young age and became deeply involved with stories from the past told by her mother and extended family. It is visible in their creative output. For example, for her spring 2018 collection, Bode Aujla traveled to Peymeinade, France to meet her uncle’s mother. The woman told Bode Aujla about the attic (le grenier in French) in her own childhood home. Bode Aujla was captivated and the room inspired this season’s overall collection, which used terry fabrics, old duvets and more. This is one of many such examples.

Her designs are heavily influenced by her own life and family history.

Her designs are heavily influenced by her own life and family history. Credit: Victor Virgile/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

At the same time, Bode Aujla’s work is in tune with the current zeitgeist: as a pioneer in ethically conscious fashion design (upcycling, for example, is far more widespread today than when her label was founded seven years ago), she also timed the trend. Meters perfect, though their clothes aren’t designed with trends in mind: Gen Z’s fashion aesthetic borrows heavily and clearly from past decades.

Bode Aujla also has news for 2023: she has just expanded her label’s range to include womenswear and presented the new designs alongside her latest autumn-winter men’s collection at Paris Fashion Week on Saturday.

This new line included historical reproductions of dresses from the 1920s and 1940s era, as well as recreations of 1970s garments that Bode Aujla’s mother Janet kept and passed on. “This first official women’s collection is about my mother and a very specific time during her youth in Massachusetts,” says the designer. “She had a job as a seasonal worker at a home in Cape Cod. The house was owned by an elderly woman who dressed in black tie every night for dinner.”

The label presented its first womenswear line at Paris Fashion Week.

The label presented its first womenswear line at Paris Fashion Week. Credit: Estrop/Getty Images

More bygone splendor was seen with a sequined gold coat, a simple champagne colored bib collar dress, pretty vintage embroidery on cardigans and jacket lapels, and even a suede fringed western twang. It was an ambitious, decades-long concept. And it will certainly expand the Bode pool.

While Bode Aujla has long used personal experiences and observations for inspiration, she recognizes that emotional connection—born by looking inward and fueled by the power of family—is universal, regardless of its specific ancestral intimacy.

That familiarity is partially felt in their brick-and-mortar boutiques, one operated in New York City and the other in Los Angeles. They are studied and living room-like, with LA being a little more academic and New York a little more intimate. Retail is the second pillar of Bode Aujla’s plan for 2023: she aims to open a third store, this time in the UK or in Europe.

“We’ve seen tremendous growth because of our retail businesses,” said Bode Aujla. “I think a lot of people have become loyal to the brand because many of the garments feel or feel personal to them once they’ve touched them.”

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