If you're a Solange Knowles fan, chances are pretty high you've seen Jaclyn Hodes' work. All those single-colour photo shoots you see and love on the singer's Instagram account? Jaclyn's breezy, naturally-dyed, sustainable dresses are often the building blocks for them. They also have a starring role in the video, 'Don't Touch My Hair,' from Knowles' newly minted number one album, A Seat At the Table. Hodes talks to us about how they connected and why her dresses and Solange's work make the perfect marriage.
How did Solange first discover you and your work?
I'm making the assumption she first encountered my pieces at Opening Ceremony, as we have mutual friends in owners Carol and Humberto. They are old friends and have supported the line, carrying the first few seasons in their NY and LA shops. Shiona Turini, a wonderful stylist that Solange collaborates with, reached out to us first.
She's worn your clothing a lot in the past year, have you had the chance to meet personally?
I think Solange and I would vibe on several levels but I have yet to get acquainted. However, I did encounter Solange back in 2003 at the Cancun airport on my way back from Tulum, Mexico. As she passed us she told me she liked my outfit. I remember I had a hammock under my arm! So there's some synchronicity there.
How would you describe the look of Awaveawake?
Simple, flowing silhouettes where the body creates the shapes and the material moves gracefully with you, allowing for movement. Ethereal and yet very earthy.
And why does it work so well with Solange's sensibility?
Solange is ahead of the mainstream and referencing the past, present and future all at once. In the two videos for A Seat At The Table, her awareness of current style and its connections to the past are very evident. She's making conscious decisions to wear what she does in all those scenes in the videos and it seems that her penchant for monochromatic dressing is a strong part of that. And Awaveawake consists of a new palette of solid colours each season. This is in part informed aesthetically but also I was led there by the natural dyes as they aren't equipped to do prints with them in the manner that I would want to achieve them.
How has her support impacted your business?
I definitely had an influx of followers on social media and interest in the line after Solange had her friends wear the dresses for her 30th birthday celebration at White Sands. I loved the way they were embodying the ethos of the brand so well. They were truly walking in beauty as powerful women and in such a surreal, natural landscape.
Your background is in styling. What prompted you to move into design?
I always knew I would be a designer to some capacity. From playing one in games of make believe as a little girl onward. I may have had a circuitous route, studying writing and art history and other humanities instead of going into a design program, but throughout it all, there persisted in me a need to create something tangible, beyond styling.
How did you decide to launch Awaveawake?
I never felt fully satisfied styling. After studying in the costume archives at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the costume department in the Fashion Institute of Technology's post-graduate department in New York, I wanted to wear the clothes myself. I wanted to inhabit them. There was also a really practical reason to starting Awaveawake, I was in dire need of replacing my tattered vintage slip dresses with new ones and thought I could lose some of the lace and other lingerie details.
And how did sustainability come into the picture?
After much research, the natural botanical dyes became a large part of the identity of the collection. I found out the impact that conventional commercial dyes had on our waterways and at the same time, the plant dyes made the material extra luminous and more sensual.
What is the meaning behind the name?
The name refers to nature (a wave) and the human touch upon it (a wake) — specifically our impact on water. It's also referencing energy as we can talk about a wave that way and also about the awakening that's happening through our connected universe. This connection heightens the awareness of our actions (and our thoughts) and the impact it has on our personal and global worlds.
Do you think your celebrity following has helped spread the message of sustainability and environmental responsibility?
It's interesting I think part of what is attracting people to them is the fact that they are made beautiful by the natural dyes and natural material and that the message is a soft one in that way, people see the clothes and like them first before they know there's also a sustainability eco-conscious agenda. In a lot of ways the soft message predicts the future, where it's a given that everything is made with the environment and its inhabitants in mind, naturally...