Inside ‘Make Room’ for Bode. Photography: Phil Huynh

‘STORYTELLING’ AND ‘NARRATIVE’ are words that get thrown around a lot in fashion. But few contemporary menswear brands are able to tell stories and wrap you up in the magic of their world quite like Bode. Each collection from the downtown New York brand founded by Emily Adams Bode Aujla in 2016 is underpinned by family histories, one-of-a-kind heirlooms and ephemera from bygone eras. Against the transient backdrop of modern life, the handmade nostalgia of Bode is striking all the right chords. No wonder celebrities like Harry Styles, Lorde, and even Daniel Ricciardo count themselves as customers. 

But it’s not just Bode’s clothes that are woven with stories. The brand’s stores – one in New York and a second in Los Angeles – are like portals into its world, with old sports trophies, midcentury tablecloths and antique paintings placed around the warm, timber-heavy spaces. For Australian fans of the brand, a trip to NYC or LA isn’t complete without hitting the Bode store, if not to make a purchase, to simply hang out and drink up the ambience. 

But recently, we haven’t had to board a plane to get a taste of that ambience. Because an actual bedroom, styled to the tastes of the quintessential Bode boy, has been assembled inside Incu’s Melbourne QV store, titled ‘Make Room’ for Bode. 

Photography: Phil Huynh
The Incu team contributed old family photos to the installation. Photography: Phil Huynh

Being a brand with such a distinct aesthetic, it was going to take someone on a similar visual wavelength to bring this project to life. After securing the pop-up – Incu is Bode’s exclusive Australian stockist – the retailer contacted the only man for the job: Ben Mooney of vintage homewares store and events space, Ma House. As the collector and curator of thousands of pieces of unique furniture, objects and artworks, not only did Mooney have an extensive miscellany of pieces he could pull from for the project, crucially, his aesthetic eye overlaps with that of Bodes, while simultaneously bringing something fresh to the space. 

“I’ve loved Bode for a long time, but I have this weird thing with Instagram where I try not to follow people I like, because I try not to copy anybody,” says Mooney, admitting that for this reason, he hadn’t hit follow on the Bode account. “But then when I was looking at all their content, it was really shocking how much we aligned.” 

One of 10 limited-edition hand embroidered Bode handkerchiefs, which were produced for the Australian pop-up. Photography: Phil Huynh
Mooney’s persimmons sit on the top shelf. Photography: Phil Huynh

Mooney says that while he took guidance from Bode’s current spaces, he didn’t want ‘Make Room’ to feel like a pastiche of what already exists. The pieces he chose from his collection, many of which are Australian, played a big role in this.

“There’s a real equestrian feeling about the room,” he says, nodding to the various show ribbons and horse figurines. “There’s a white horse from the Tang Dynasty that’s from the 60s, it’s on a pedestal next to the bed, I love that piece. And then above that — I think it must have been an equestrian trophy — it’s from the 1890s, it’s like a mirror and there’s a little jockey hat on the top, and there’s a shelf down the bottom that’s got these gates around it.” 

Bode sent over a bunch of its own ephemera to be included in the pop-up, including music, records from workshops and old receipts, sourced by their in-house historian. Back in its New York studio, the Bode team also mended and personalised 10 one-of-a-kind hand-embroidered handkerchiefs, all woven with Australian-inspired flora and fauna, such as koalas and Tasmanian tigers. 

Photography: Phil Huynh
Photography: Phil Huynh

As for applying the finishing touches, Mooney called on one of his favourite styling techniques. “I think once Oprah was doing this special on how to decorate when you’re poor, and she said the best way to do that is with fresh fruit and flowers. So I’ve got some persimmons in there; I always do like to have that fresh element.” 

The result is inherently Bode, with a subtle Australiana twist. “Normally you’ll make an excuse when someone gives you a compliment, or you’ll think something is wrong,” says Mooney. “But I have to say, this was really just like ‘yeah, this is amazing, this is perfect, we did a really good job’.” 

‘Make Room’ for Bode is open at Incu QV until May 28.