Text by Alec Coiro
The story of how Jaclyn Hodes came to Awaveawake starts with the story of Kundalini yoga. According to Jaclyn, Kundalini yoga was brought to America in the late ‘60s by a Sikh named Yogi Bhajan, who was able to open young people’s minds a way that drugs couldn’t. “Yogi Bhajan saw a bunch of western kids who were obviously looking to have new experiences and expand their mind and drugs weren’t working for them. They were frying them. Yogi Bhajan saw that he could help these kids.” Jaclyn’s immersion in the mind-expanding practice of Kundalini yoga was the impetus for her to transform her life and work in a way that led her to Awaveawake. “I’d been styling for years and things felt stuck there. I was looking for a way to transition to something else. I’d been studying Kundalini yoga, but I knew my identity was not to be a yoga teacher. But there was so much about learning about this style of yoga that felt really karmic — as though I’d done it for lifetimes — and it elevated certain sensitivities in me where I began to see inconsistencies in styling; sometimes it felt like we were objectifying people too much. After studying Kudalini Yoga as intensely as I’d been if something felt off, I couldn’t just glaze it over.”
Each season I pick a destination as a point of inspiration, and that’s where the color pallet comes from.
The First Collection
Jaclyn began conceiving of doing a line in the summer of 2011 when she went to New Mexico for Ram Das Puri, a summer solstice meditation gathering of Kundalini practitioners. It was there that she gained a clarity about changes she wanted to make in her life. By fall 2011 she had started working on the patterns for her line, and ultimately launched the line in September 2012.
A friend of hers wore a piece from the inaugural collection out to a benefit and was spotted by someone from Vogue who called the collection in. Jaclyn was at Inle Lake in Burma when she saw the email from Vogue requesting to use Awaveawake for a story. She somehow choreographed having a friend in New York ferry the dress over. Having the full dress featured in a story in Vogue combined with support from super model friends helped encourage her to continue
The Rest of the Collections
The changes in the collection from season to season are subtle, “It isn’t reinventing the wheel in terms of creating new silhouettes.” The slip dress designs are consistently based on ‘30s and ‘70s silhouettes. The key to what makes each collection unique is the part of the world it’s based on. “Each season I pick a destination as a point of inspiration, and that’s where the color pallet comes from. And there’s also a subtle design directive that comes from there. In the Thai collection (Spring/Summer ‘14), for example, there were some shirts that were traditional Thai style.” In addition to Thai, she has collections inspired by Sedona in Arizona, a Malibu-in-the-‘70s collection, and a collection inspired by a mixture of Rishikesh and Varanasi (where Jaclyn recently waded in the Ganges).
Before we talked, I had thought of the name Awaveawake was a psychedelic one. But it’s perhaps more accurate to think of it as an expression of a spiritual substitute for the psychedelic effect achieved through Kundalini practice. For Jaclyn there is little difference. “If you’re really meditating you enter the same space that you do if you take psychedelics.”
The name Awaveawake has both visual and auditory connotations. “It’s like a poem. A conglomeration of three words ‘A,’ ‘Wave,’ ‘Awake.’ At first I was being a little more obvious with names like ‘Aquarian Designs’ (because in Kundalini Yoga there’s so much emphasis on the Aquarian Age). But that was a bit basic. I kept on seeing patterns through doing meditation and the Ws in Awaveawake matched those patterns; it jumped out at me.” Perhaps most importantly, the name also refers to the waves of awakening, opening up, and awareness that she sees more and more in the people in her life.
Every time I see Jaclyn or a picture of her she seems to sporting a maxi skirt. I asked her if this is a coincidence. She explained that through her travels in the East, she’s become familiar with eastern women’s sense of propriety in covering their legs, which complimented the natural feeling of safety she gets from wearing long things. The long skirts she wears also provide a balance between a garment that covers the body and a garment that’s cut close to the body and flatters its form. The Awaveawake silhouette finds the equilibrium between hiding and revealing the body.
All Awaveawake garments are naturally dyed in California. And when Jaclyn says natural, she doesn’t mean natural like your soda “includes natural and artificial flavors.” She means fully natural. Like her blue is actual indigo and her red is made of bugs. Jaclyn came to this decision after learning the scale of the environmental damage from the waste produced by synthetic dyeing facilities, making synthetic dying the most harmful aspect of garment industry, which is the 3rd largest industry in the world.“I hesitate to say it’s an eco-sustainable collection, even though it is, because I think that’s just the way things should just be going. They’re not really working any more, the old ways.” And so Awaveawake helps move away from these ways in preparation, perhaps, for the Aquarian Age.