Jaclyn Hodes thrives in a state of flow.
The designer, artist, activist and healer’s work has evolved organically—on so many levels. She was captivated by style, but also nature, from childhood. After studying art and writing at Sarah Lawrence College, she took a year abroad at The Sorbonne and fell into the “glittering” world of French fashion. Once back in New York, she became a deeply entrenched stylist with work featured in progressive publications like Dossier and Nylon. She also worked as fashion editor for TheBlowUp and Vice.
It was after a graduate program at FIT, that allowed her access to the Met’s Costume Institute, that she began to find her true fashion voice, inspired by the free silhouettes of the late 1960s and 70s and that enduring childhood respect for the Earth. Ultimately, that led her to launch AWAVEAWAKE, a hyperconscious line of luxury basics—the core of which is the slip dress—made with ethically sourced fabric, all-natural dyes and a completely clean production process.
Here, Hodes explains why happiness starts with surrender:
Live The Process: What inspired your interests in style and ecology respectively?
Jaclyn Hodes: I’ve been interested in fashion and style in all senses for as long as I can recall. I would spend hours in my mother’s closet as a young girl. I loved to be among the materials: the silks and sequins. I was constantly sketching clothing and was always captivated by costumes in films. I read my mother’s Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar and would feel myself transported by the images in the editorials.
But, when I got to college, I felt I had catching up to do and poured myself into “loftier” subjects like philosophy and art history and theory, and I ended up merging innate desires with studies when I enrolled in graduate school for Fashion and Textile Studies at FIT. I loved my time in the costume archives there and at the Met, and delved into as many magazines from the 30s to the 70s as I could find; the copy was just exciting as the images. But it was through studying sculpture and then applying my connection to materials directly through styling that things started to take further shape for me.
As far as eco-activism is concerned, I credit a deep connection to nature, which was instilled by my father—a doctor with a scientific mind. We would spend a lot of time outdoors together, exploring the fossil beads in the backyard of my first home. But those times in the backyard and in nearby parks were filled with magic and fantasy of larger expanses, and the beauty and preciousness of the natural world entranced me.
Spending my summers by the sea as child and teenager was another landscape of delight. I gained a deep connection to the ocean from having it just outside my front door. I participated in beach cleanups and other clean ocean awareness projects as a child in the 80s. But my sense of activism expanded further in high school when, for social and emotional survival reasons, I turned toward subculture for inspiration. The first type I encountered was a music one with some rather regrettable bands, but they all were tied to veganism and animal rights activism. And I got into both.
LTP: How did you come to launch a line that marries fashion and activism?
JH: When I started AWAVEAWAKE, I was endeavoring the create a line of clothing I wanted to wear myself. I was wearing vintage slips, as it felt the most yogini of the outfits I could conjure. And, believe it or not, in 2012 when I launched, not every collection included at least one bias cut slip! It was definitely a wardrobe item that was missing from most collections at the time. So, I wanted to create a line that centered around them.
It was essential that I create from a new paradigm: if I was going to create anything new, add more stuff into the world, it had to come from a place of consciousness. I researched the impact that the fashion system had on the waterways, and it was clear to me that being sustainable wasn’t enough. That, for me to use natural materials was about luxury and comfort, but that I would also have to omit synthetic colors from my creations completely.
The collection’s sustainability or eco-consciousness factor came more from an innate place. I thought, “Of course, this is the only way for me to comfortably do this.” And then, from there, my relationship to the plants and the colors they provide the materials continued to develop. AWAVEAWAKE was conceived of as a combination of spiritual inclinations and a natural wellness lifestyle that was also concerned with honoring nature—the preservation of and reverence to it.
But, also, I think I haven’t claimed the term as such and, now that LTP brings it to my attention in this question, it is a kind of activism: to find voice for some disparate things to come into fabrication, for feminine power, sensuality, Earth consciousness and spirituality to become embodied into cloth and silhouette.
LTP: What inspires the line?
JH: Each season, the palette is created using exclusively natural plant materials (bark, leaves and flowers) as colors. We use silk, organic cotton and hemp.
But the line is season-less: we offer core styles to illustrate a way of dressing that incorporates layering and pairing with other collections, even. We think of AWAVEAWAKE as a luxury basics line. We also are zero waste; we use all scrap materials, making tags and incorporating them into accessories etc. For example, our first zero waste project has been our Bali-made silk cotton hand fans.
My most recent collection was inspired by the place I’ve called home these past two and half years: Topanga Canyon. The colors captured my experience of walking through the landscapes at different times of the day.
LTP: What rituals, practices and/or products keep you feeling balanced and healthy?
JH: I just spent the past month in Paris and now the things that I previously required to stay grounded and inspired in LA have been thrown on their heads! But I am sure I will soon, once again, replace espressos with my SunPotion herbs in morning cacao tonics!
Dance is my passion; I find any form of sacred dance very inspiring. I most recently started Hawaiian hula dance, and it’s truly prayer in movement.
For beauty regimes, ideally, it would be a facial from Sadie Adams to get my skin in top form. And for enhancing things a little, RMS "Un" Cover-Up goes a long way. I only do a little mascara (I’ve found Dr Hauschkas to be the best for me) and Poppy and Someday lip glosses give me a little color.
And I nourish my self deeper with any other of Kari Jansen’s creations. Shiva Rose beauty products are also incredible; I especially love her mists and oils. I love anything essential oil-infused from Living Libations too.
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
JH: I am feeling really happy again after a rather challenging past two years, so I can answer this accurately for myself, from a place of contrast. Happiness is when you have clarity. You’re not struggling with things, but in a place of measured surrender—not a free fall necessarily, but a space of being unstuck and in your flow.
For me, that looks like a balance of movement and rest, traveling for work and pleasure, deeply catching up with friends and being deep in nature sometimes, and other times, in an inspiring urban environment.
LTP: What does it mean to you to “Live The Process” and how can we all do that more each day?
JH: To “Live The Process,” for me, means to be in a state of action, to be with the questions and what has been and what may be next, and to be inspired by the unknown. It means to be living in one’s authenticity. Everyone speaks about “authenticity,” but our definitions of this are unique. I see it as having woven together all parts of experience and created something you’re devoted to—and living it, embodying the complexity of that process.