For former stylist Jaclyn Hodes, a spiritual shift led to an eventual career shift. In the fall of 2012, the practicing Kundalini yogi launched AWAVEAWAKE, a conscious clothing line that she considers an extension and expression of her worldview.
It's made an auspicious beginning. Arden Wohl wore AWAVEAWAKE to this year's CFDA Awards, and Hodes' designs occupied a full page in Vogue before the eco-friendly dresses and layering pieces even hit stores. Ethica is one of the very few places you'll find the debut collection–read on as the designer shares her influences, speaks out on the state of ethical fashion, and clues us in to a handful of her favorite natural beauty products.
You've said that color is currently the driving force in your collections. Can you elaborate on this and tell us how it relates to your use of natural, plant-based dyes? I am basing each collection on a place that has left a lasting impression on me. There are sights and sounds and other experiences of a destination, but I am currently trying to capture all sensations through the color palette. Plant-based dyes are not only more healthful for the individual and the planet, but they're vibrationally more conscious. They carry the essences of the plants used and also of the intentions you place into them. I think that's the inexplicable ingredient in why people find the pieces so special.
You cite your Kundalini yoga practice as part of what inspired you to create an ethical label. How does it influence you as a designer? Your silhouettes and fabric choices suggest a woman who is very connected to her body. My studies and practice of Kundalini Yoga have transformed my life on all levels. I'd studied yoga for nearly a decade prior to stepping into Hari Kaur Khalsa's class at Golden Bridge one summer six years ago. Lots of things began to come into focus for me, and although my habits shifted gradually over time, I took on many features of the lifestyle and this spiritual path. This includes caring for the body so that you can more easily meditate and remain neutral when "off the mat."
There was also a particular emphasis not discussed in other yogas about spiritual dress and general decorum that really resonated with me. It was dressing oneself according to one's "royal projection" that really had me think about how I could create a collection that mirrored this sentiment, and which would also align consciously and contribute positively.
Is there a spiritual belief reflected in your designs, particularly in terms of femininity? I wouldn't want to alienate anyone by over-emphasizing the spiritual aspect of the collection, but it's an integral part of my life. Naturally, whether consumers are conscious of it or not, they are feeling some of that. I would also go so far as saying that creating a clothing collection that has ethical and conscious practices as its foundation is a spiritual practice in and of itself. Women who try on the clothing have repeatedly mentioned that they feel like the clothes are "Goddess-wear," and that it helps put them in a particular mindset. There is an aspect of healing the feminine and channeling the feminine divine through embracing the power of the natural feminine silhouette, both cloaked and revealed.
I would go so far as saying that creating a clothing collection that has ethical and conscious practices as its foundation is a spiritual practice in and of itself.
You were a successful stylist with an insider's view of the mainstream fashion industry. Where would you put the state of ethical fashion today in the U.S.? Ethical fashion in the U.S. is still very much developing, but so many people are awakening to the impact of the lack of ethics in the industry; the information is getting out there, fast and furiously. I have several friends who have left the fashion industry to become healers, and that's wonderful if it feels more aligned with one's purpose–but fashion can always use a healer's touch! Finding new ways to operate within the existing paradigm can be pretty exciting, too.
Who is the AWAVEAWAKE woman? The AWAVEAWAKE woman is very comfortable in her skin. She is interested in exploring her sensuality through dress in a very graceful and high-vibrational way. The clothing isn't revealing, and yet it doesn't hide the form either, so there is an immediate sense of how the woman carries herself, how she moves within the material and in the world.
How does traveling inform your design process? It's essential. In addition to the color inspiration, I am deriving inspiration from the people in the places I am visiting. I find inspiration in the architecture, crafts and customs, but the energy of the place is key too. I focus on somewhat simple, wearable silhouettes that flow and move well with the body, and traditional dress has this down to a science. I'm particularly inspired by what women of other cultures wear and how that affects the way they go about in the world–and men's dress in the East is equally inspiring. The men of Myanmar wear their skirts (longyi) in the most elegant and yet very masculine way!
Your fabrics aren't the only thing that's radiant. What are some of your natural beauty secrets? I only wear all natural makeup now, if any. If I am not experimenting with making my own lip color using powdered hibiscus leaf and mango butter, I am using the RMS Beauty line. Rose Marie Swift, who conceived the line, is an incredible makeup artist and did the makeup for our FW13 presentation. Her eye cream pigments and concealers are incredible. I have quite a bit of hair on my head and also swear by John Masters Organics Lavender & Avocado Intensive Conditioner and use skin oils (instead of cream) from Pratima, an amazing line from her Ayurvedic spa in Soho.
FW13 photography by Annabel Mehran; all lookbook images courtesy of AWAVEAWAKE.