Jaclyn Hodes is the otherworldly embodiment of her made-for-goddesses brand AWAVEAWAKE. Hodes studied art history, sculpture, and writing at Sarah Lawrence College before heading to the Sorbonne to study film. While in Paris she fell in love with French fashion and began her career styling. Later she spent time at the Met’s Costume Institute and was particularly drawn to Edwardian years and 60s and 70s fashion – the silhouettes that dominated this era largely influenced the collection she launched in 2012. Hints of Edwardian fashion are evident in the lace-up bodices in her Fall 2016 collection. With fans like Solange and Rihanna, AWAVEAWAKE is an ethically sourced brand aimed at bringing awareness at fashion’s impact on the environment. Each garment is thoughtfully produced and expertly blends function with elevated design.
You have so much experience in the industry – is there a time, or job, specifically that you credit to launching the brand?
Following my undergraduate studies in philosophy, sculpture and writing, I completed my graduate work in costume and textile history where I went deep into the Costume Institute archives and acquired an amazing design education. I credit the clarifying and deepening of my spiritual practice through kundalini yoga for further integrating my ethics with my aesthetic explorations. I realized my need to embody all elements together and properly address what was lighting me up. I wanted to make clothing with integrity that represented my ethos, practice, and vision. It was then that AWAVEAWAKE was born.
Did you always aspire to have your own collection?
I have always had a sense that I would create my own collection, I just didn’t know the how, where or when it would take shape.
What is it about the 1930s that is so captivating to you?
I was collecting vintage slip dresses in the years that preceded the inception of AWAVEAWAKE because that was all I wanted to wear. It was Madame Grès bias cut, and flowy yet structured by design fluidity and deceptively simple. It’s these elements that I was seeking to evoke in AWAVEAWAKE as they are effortlessly and gracefully in-sync with the body’s flow, not encumbered by boning or bodicing.
Was it tough to take your influences for the brand and create an eco-friendly line of dresses?
It was a truly natural process. I researched different materials for many months but was struck by the catastrophic impact that conventional chemical dyes have on our waterways and the rampant use of them. Once I had this knowledge I found myself making contact with botanical dyes and experiencing the way they transformed the un-dyed material. The conductive and seasonless quality of silk and silk blends not only absorbed the plant-based dyes the best, but also had the classic drape and movement with the body that I was seeking. It was at that point that I knew this natural process would become part of the core identity of AWAVEAWAKE.
Where do you source your fabric?
All silk comes from Asia. And thankfully it’s a continent in which I feel deeply connected to. With more resources I hope to support more and more small manufacturers in Asia who are weaving the material and using the dyes directly.
How do you overcome the limitations of sourcing and producing sustainably?
It has always been the idea of perceived limitations that inspire me most. So much can blossom when you are not in a mode of too many options, but when the few options you have are aligned with your mission. It can also create a well-edited collection. Limitation builds the confines that allow for a more clean and succinct line.
Has it been a deliberate choice to release two collections a year? Why is this?
Although I only release two collections a year, I consider them to be seasonless and versatile in nature; a repetition that creates a wardrobe.
Have there been many surprises despite your knowledge of the industry?
Actual details of managing a small, independent business is always surprising.
Looking back on your collective experiences at Sarah Lawrence, styling, and living in New Mexico – do you feel they have all led you to this moment? In what ways specifically?
Yes indeed. Sarah Lawrence as a creative and intellectual institution set the stage for creative and thoughtful living and working from that space – wherever it may be. Styling in Paris and working in New York further honed my eye and skills with clothing and image making. And my gradate work had me deep in the archives. Now, I have lived part time in LA and now Bali. I also spent a few formative summer retreats in New Mexico. All of these locations have led and informed me. I think being a nomad is true to my creative process and the essence of the brand, the fluidity and motion and wearability and the fact that the pieces pack down and are easy to travel with as a result.
As I’m sure you’re aware, a major trend for this season is the slip dress – what design elements set apart your brand’s signature shape?
We launched with the slip dress in Spring 2013 and will continue with the original design and layer in new iterations as long as the collection lives. Both our classic slip silhouettes are bias cut; one has waistband detail with a generous skirt, and the other with seams pushed forward, fitting closer to the body. Perhaps the quality that differentiates the AWAVEAWAKE slip dress from the others is how you feel wearing it, how the natural dyes actually make you feel more celebrated and sensual. My offering speaks to building on one’s wardrobe and classics, rather than on trend. was established.
How do you intend to evolve the collection?
We are in the process of adding sustainable and consciously designed accessories. There’s also been a lot of requests for menswear. AWAVEAWAKE is a lifestyle so further expansion will unveil the furthering of the brand. We shall see how things develop, organically, over time…