Fashion brand

The Road to Bode’s Back-to-Back Menswear Designer of the Year Awards

On Monday, designer Emily Adams Bode Aujla de Bode earned one of the CFDA’s most prestigious awards — Menswear Designer of the Year — for the second time in a row. Beating Fear of God’s Jerry Lorenzo, AMIRI’s Mike Amiri, Thom Browne and Willy Chavarria, the two-time crowned visionary achieved a fashion feat that only Thom Browne, Tom Ford and John Varvatos have accomplished before her. Sitting among the industry’s top talent, Bode’s eponymous label now comfortably rules the helm of American menswear. The question is: how did she do it?

Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Bode was raised by a family of heritage connoisseurs. She became an avid patron of the city’s antique shops and fairs, thanks to her mother and aunt’s penchant for browsing vintage markets. His grandfather, a collector of American antiquities, also gave him an appreciation for ancient relics. After moving to New York in 2008 to attend Parsons School of Design and Eugene Lang College, Bode discovered that his family’s legacy in antiquity – or the “bode Bode”, as it is known in fashion – had stayed. With her dual BA-BFA degree in menswear design and philosophy, the rising designer began breathing new life into vintage and unsold textiles through fashion.

In 2016, after stints at Ralph Lauren and Marc Jacobs, Bode founded his eponymous menswear label in his Lower East Side apartment. The imprint originally existed as a sewing studio, producing one-by-one pieces from antique textiles including New England quilts, hand-spun Indian fabrications, handkerchiefs and old blankets. decades from flea markets around the world. The result was a burgeoning portfolio of original, no-nonsense menswear. Although critics initially scoffed at the idea of ​​purple blankets and embroidered tops hanging in men’s wardrobes, Bode was undeterred.

“Even if I do pink quilts or embroidered shirts, it’s the guys [who are] wear it,” she said The fade seven months after launching his label. “The colors are bright: it’s fun, it’s whimsical, but it’s still very masculine. It’s weird to read that people say, “That doesn’t look like men’s clothes.”

Suffice it to say, Bode’s subtle opposition to the status quo has led the New York fashion scene to embrace his thought-provoking, sustainability-conscious designs. In 2018, Bode became the first designer to walk the runway during New York Men’s Week. Opening a new door for women in menswear, Bode presented a collection that transformed materials ranging from mattress covers to vinyl upholstery and tapestries to age-old fabrics into contemporary, art-filled masculine silhouettes. Following these triumphant beginnings, she was named vice-champion of the CFDA/vogue Fashion fund.

In 2019, Bode was honored as the CFDA’s Emerging Designer of the Year, an impressive achievement after just three years at the helm of his fledgling label. And according to Forbesbusiness is booming: she is on the magazine’s prestigious “30 Under 30” list.

In June of the same year, she traveled abroad for another first: a parade during Men’s Fashion Week in Paris. On opening day, Bode’s full-fledged Spring/Summer 2020 show offered a high-fashion upgrade for its brand; the label, once associated with intimate living spaces and art studios, commissioned a grand 16th arrondissement townhouse with patchwork coats, crochet shirts, belted jumpsuits, welding jackets, pants in jersey and ballet flats. At her highest caliber, Bode stayed true to her roots, noting that the collection’s circus theme was inspired by her family’s ties to a wagon store contracted by the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey.

It was at this time that Bode took another pivotal step. Besides the obvious accolades and international fame, the designer said QG that people had finally started pronouncing his label moniker — and his last name — correctly. It seems small now, but back then it was an important moment for the humble designer, whose work is essentially a physical manifestation of his family’s history and antiquities. Therefore, we go to the record: it’s pronounced BOH-dee.

Returning to Paris Fashion Week for its Fall 2020 show, Bode’s style codes were succinctly identifiable. The designer’s affinity for blending centuries-old textiles into masterfully cut arrangements of bed linens, delicate suedes and, of course, vivid quilts, spoke for itself through totally unique patchwork trucker jackets, faux fur print coats and gold embellished trench coats. . It was obvious that the bold color palette she had chosen – cherry red, mint green, light blue, charcoal gray, mustard yellow and burgundy – was a perfect fit for menswear.

In 2020, Bode won the first Karl Lagerfeld Prize for Innovation at the International Woolmark Prize. The prestigious association of awards, which has already crowned winners Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino Garavani and Lagerfeld, not only earned Bode the industry lead from the title’s prestigious judges, who included British vogue editor-in-chief Edward Enninful, artistic director Dior Homme Kim Jones, vogue International Editor Hamish Bowles, fashion company Editor-in-Chief Tim Blanks and more, but also gave him a $100,000 AUD ($65,000) award to expand his manufacturing processes.

“Innovating does not mean coming up with new techniques,” she said. vogue after his victory. “Receiving the award while the brand is rooted in family mills and historic techniques highlights the direction we are heading as an industry.”

“[Fashion] doesn’t always have to be new, we can look back.

The following April, Bode simultaneously presented its Spring/Summer 2021 and Fall/Winter 2021 collections, both paying homage to his uncle Bill Bode and nodding to the tumultuous effects of the COVID pandemic under the title “A Year Off”. Housed in a vintage college dorm reminiscent of the last time his uncle was without his wife Mahri (who died in 2019), the collection brought knitwear to the fore, made possible in part by his win at Woolmark, which provided access to certified suppliers in India and Peru producing merino wool and various other knitwear. Still, Bode signatures like basic patchwork, hand-drawn images and vintage fabrics ran through the veins of the range.

Later that year Bode won his first menswear designer of the year trophy at the CFDA Fashion Awards against Jerry Lorenzo for Fear of God, Mike Amiri for AMIRI, Telfar Clemens for Telfar and Thom Browne, placing his line at the top of American men’s fashion. .

With big shoes to fill, Bode returned with a Pre-Fall 2022 collection in June this year. Looking inward at her marriage to partner Aaron Aujla, the line included eccentric formal wear in unconventional patterns and hues. It was a slight departure from what Bode would normally produce, but on closer inspection it was clear that elements of the designer’s traditional design techniques held each iteration together.

Then, in September, the visionary presented her fall 2022 collection, which stylistically entered the brand’s archives to revisit Bode’s first effort. Celebrating the imprint’s journey, the latest range recalled the no-holds-barred approach that first catapulted the designer onto the fashion radar in New York. There was no shortage of antique inclusions, technical applications, intricate embroideries or heavy pigmentation. It was simply Bode, at his best. So, of course, that this, alongside his now firmly entrenched hold on American menswear, earned him a second straight menswear designer of the year award at this year’s CFDA awards.

For its fashionable efforts to reinvigorate and protect past portrayals of America, the secondary title seems apt. Between this year and last, Bode fought back effectively, with collections celebrating the story of an American girl whose pioneering approach to menswear design opened up new avenues for women in the world. industry – and, on a more personal level, whose romance sparked a sartorial influence on an entire menswear collection.

Where Bode once sought inspiration from the storylines of her family members, she now finds herself rethinking her own for the future of others. Presumably she will continue to create her iconic silhouettes through both her family stories and her personal anecdotes, but however each season begins, her award-winning success continues to reside in her constantly reinvented approach to design. .

Hazel J. Edmonds

The author Hazel J. Edmonds