Eviana Hartman Dresses Like a ‘Santa Fe Healing-Arts Practitioner Circa 1998’

Eviana Hartman first moved to New York in 2000, landing a job as an editorial assistant at Vogue. From there, she climbed the fashion ladder, becoming a writer at Teen Vogue and the fashion features editor at Nylon. She eventually left the glossies behind to freelance, penning a column on environmental topics for the Washington Post. At the time, she was sharing an office with designer Samantha Pleet, and the two co-designed a small range of organic cotton pieces. The collection took off, and Hartman finally founded her own label, Bodkin, in 2008.

Last year, ecominded German brand Hessnatur tapped Hartman to design a capsule collection using all-natural fibers. The first collection launches this month (available online in the U.S.), and she’s jetting off to Germany this summer to finish the spring 2011 collection. In the meantime, she’s hunting for a larger studio space for Bodkin in New York and moonlighting as the drummer for the band Open Ocean; catch them August 7 at Memory Motel in Montauk. We chatted with the writer, drummer, and designer about dressing for Vogue, vintage hunting, and the paradox of bad style.

What inspires your designs?
Architecture and science, modern art, Scandinavian street style, and somewhat hazy memories of the style of the late nineties — but none of this is literal. I like the idea of clothes that are progressive for their time, yet subtle and useful enough to be enduring, like an Eames chair.

Who are your favorite designers?
Rei Kawakubo, Yohji Yamamoto, Dries van Noten, Zucca, Acne, Christian Wijnants, Electric Feathers, and A.P.C.

What’s the first designer item you ever bought?
I think it was a Marc Jacobs bag, when I first moved here and got the job at Vogue. I thought my serious job required a serious bag. Honestly, I can’t stand big, glossy leather “It” bags. I’m a tote-bag-carrying Brooklyn girl.

Where do you like to shop in New York?
The Brooklyn Flea, Malin Landaeus, Maryam Nassir Zadeh, and Bird. I tend to support friends and neighbors.

Looks from the Bodkin fall collection.Photo: Courtesy of Bodkin.

How would you describe your personal style?
I guess it’s slouchy and casual in spirit, and often a product of laziness. But it’s also carefully calibrated to be different and hard to place: not a reflection of current trends, but not normal. It usually involves a combination of oversize comfy clothing, big jewelry, and platform shoes.

What trends are you appreciating right now?
I just got back from a few days in New Mexico, and I went crazy at one thrift store and bought all of this vintage Chico’s art-mom stuff, like boxy tunics that I’ll wear as minidresses, a long knitted vest, and a linen vest covered with shell buttons. Now I’m feeling like dressing like a Santa Fe healing-arts practitioner circa 1998 for the rest of the summer.

Any trends you’re ready to see retired?
I’m sick of the “edgy” look: body-con, porkpie hats, and stilettos with angry hardware. But I actually don’t mind that people are trendy. I don’t mind bad taste or even mediocre taste. I’m always studying what people are wearing — bad style keeps my mind working.

What’s one item you’re saving to buy?
I may have to get a pair of Robert Clergie crepe-sole platform boots to get me through the fall and winter. Comfort and height are an elusive combination.

What’s something you never leave the house without?
I have this men’s cardigan from Muji that’s made of the thinnest jersey. It rolls into a tiny ball in your bag, weighs maybe a few grams, and it’s quite handy for countering blasts of air conditioning.

Eviana Hartman Dresses Like a ‘Santa Fe Healing-Arts Practitioner Circa 1998’