In her Chinatown studio in June, Emily Adams Bode was recovering. It had been a busy few weeks for the designer. The night before, she’d thrown herself a 30th-birthday party, which ended with a midnight marriage proposal from her boyfriend. Ten days earlier, she’d won Emerging Designer of the Year at the CFDA Fashion Awards, having also been named a finalist for the LVMH Prize for young fashion designers in March. Now she was on to the next major life event: the debut runway show of her eponymous line, set to take place during Paris Fashion Week Men’s in just four days. The only thing standing in her way was a red-eye flight and the mountains of clothes, fabric, and sewing tools she had to cram into as few suitcases as possible.
“It’s always chaos,” Bode said of her world, which resembles a grandparent’s attic: both crowded and quiet. “A lot of fashion studios in New York are more sterile, with cubicles and desks. Ours really functions as a workshop.”
It’s this personal touch that has men (and some women) flocking to Bode for patchwork pants, or a delicate lace shirt; the antithesis of loud, logo-clad streetwear. “When we have guys come in and they try stuff on and it reminds them of an aspect of their own family house, or their mother, or their grandmother, or some sort of family relationship,” said Bode. “It’s beautiful to see people’s reactions to something that is so female-centric.”
Bode’s new collection was inspired by her own family connection to the Bode Wagon Company, which transported the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. It includes shirts hand-painted with the names of every man in the Bode family, a striped pattern originally found on a 1920s window curtain, pants made of horse-riding and county-fair prize ribbons, and suits fashioned from feed sacks and tobacco silks.
The show would receive strong reviews — “Certainly original if not flawless,” wrote Vogue — but first Bode had to pack.
*A version of this article appears in the July 8, 2019, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!