Before every other kid dreamed of being a jet-setting creative director sending CADs of T-shirts and cut-and-sew pieces to teams of designers, she or he might have once dreamed of joining the circus. After all, for CFDA Emerging Designer of the Year Emily Adams Bode, that notion is just a part of her family history.
For her Spring/Summer 2020 collection, Bode’s eponymous label channeled the work of her great-great-great uncle, Albert Bode, whose Bode Wagon Co. once made show wagons for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Additional inspiration was found in Sarasota, Florida, where the circus would rest every summer and the site of the Ringling Museum.
Featuring plenty of bold stripes and sharp suits fit for any would-be ringmaster, BODE’s latest collection also speaks to how the wild world of menswear has become a lion in need of taming. Taking these outlandish inspirations and turning them into a collection in which the references are reined in tastefully was certainly a masterful feat.
Without knowing about its ties to the circus, the clothing still resonated with a There Will Be Blood-meets-Red Dead Redemption vibe, something a little “old world” that just has that je ne sais quoi. Other than a few nods on BODE’s signature graphic trousers and typefaces that recall what you’d find on an old-school circus ad, the collection built on the brand’s DNA of clothing that feels current but still possesses a classic sensibility.
Bold silk pajama sets were tempered by vintage-looking suede welding jackets, preppy awning-stripe suits softened with embroidery on the legs and lace shirts underneath. Toeing the line between feminine and masculine tropes feels unmistakably current in today’s shopping landscape.
Of course, if the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus once famously touted itself as “The Greatest Show on Earth,” was BODE gunning for “The Greatest Fashion Show on Earth”? That might be overstating things a little, but the collection was certainly a welcome progression for a designer who continues to impress with new feats of storytelling through her clothing.