For the Northern Hemisphere, June 21st 2013 is the summer solstice.  It’s the longest day of the year – with the shortest night – and for centuries, it’s been a day of celebration in many cultures around the world. The Egyptians built the Great Pyramids so that, when viewed from the Sphinx, the sun set directly between them on the summer solstice. The Mayans constructed Holtun, a city whose buried ruins were discovered last year in Guatemala, so the buildings would align with the light on the day of the summer solstice; the population would gather at the observatory to receive their king on that day every year. Stonehenge is another dedication to the solstice – and the location of an annual celebration each June. The summer solstice represents a time of fulfillment and a moment to honor the sun. For many, there is a connection to fertility. We may recognize it with a festival, a holiday, or a simple period of consideration.
Awaveawake, longtime stylist Jaclyn Hodes’ recently launched collection of hand-dyed silk dresses and separates, is in a way the perfect ode to the summer solstice. The palette of apricot, golden yellow, coral and a dusty dirt red Hodes refers to as “clay pot” is drawn from the sun’s spectrum. “It’s inspired by the way the sun and sky reflect the rocks, from dawn to dusk to twilight,” Hodes explained from her Greenwich Village studio, holding a bright yellow silk slip gown with a ‘70s-style silhouette to the light. “The design details of each piece references the texture and shape of the rock formations and the quiet yet powerful energy of the vortexes of Sedona.”
The garments, which are hand-dyed using natural, plant-based dyes by women all over the world in riverbanks, are all made of Southeast Asia-sourced eco-conscious silk. It’s a delicate fabric that runs like days, like water, and like the summer heat—and feels very fluid and luxurious on the body. You can wear her silk slips, some of which have 1930’s lingerie-reminiscent bamboo lace detailing along the spines, in the noirish summer heat. Slide into a backless, floor-length red rock gown for a night amongst the fireflies and Met’s opera at the park. Sink into a hazy July morning in a loose skirt-shawl pairing. Or wear a minimalist, dance-ready slip—maybe the shadow black piece—to an intimate dinner party on a chilled fall night. These pieces may be made with the summer sun in mind, but they are easily layered, and therefore seasonless. A way to carry the spirit of the summer solstice into fall, winter, and spring.
“The collection is equally inspired by natural forms and the quality and the drape of the naturally-dyed silk itself,” said Hodes. She references the renowned German dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch when talking about the way the silk moves on the body and Barbara Schroeder’s trippy 1972 film The Valley (Obscured by Clouds) as visual inspiration. The dresses are a dedication to the works of these women, to the sun, to the colors reflected in the deserts of the American Southwest—and to the feeling of fluidity and sky burnt palette that these moments in the sun inspire.
This summer solstice, Hodes will travel to Española, New Mexico to camp out and celebrate the solstice with Kundalini Yoga Guru Ram Das Puri. It’s an experience that inspired her current collection, and one that will surely inform pieces to follow. Wearing her garments, the connection’s not hard to imagine – slipping into an Awaveawake silk is like sitting on a prehistoric rock in New Mexico, watching the sun set during the solstice.
Ashley Simpson
June 2013