Ms Emily Bode’s Favourite New York Spots
The designer’s insider guide to the hidden treasures of the Lower East Side
Ms Emily Bode in her studio in lower Manhattan, New York, January 2019. Photograph by Mr Karsten Moran/The New York Times/Eyevine
Ms Emily Bode’s patchwork jackets and gossamer doily camp shirts are imbued with lived-in histories that can be traced around the world and across generations, but the beating heart of the brand is New York City. Ms Bode was born and raised in Atlanta and schooled in Switzerland before moving to New York to study at the Parsons School of Design. Since 2008, she and her brand have called the city home – specifically a 10-block-radius in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. She sticks close to the neighbourhood, which has a rich history, marked by the waves of immigration that colour its shops and streets, a joyous riot of tastes and sounds, which, much like Bode’s designs, comes together in a tapestry of many fabrics.
Following the showing of her latest collection in Paris, Ms Bode is home and back at work in her recently opened store on Hester Street. Below, she shares the places that define her personal New York.
Paula Rubenstein, 195 Chrystie Street
Paula Rubenstein. Photograph by Ms Jasphy Zheng
Ms Paula Rubenstein’s menagerie of industrial curios and endless stacks of antique textiles has moved around over the years, landing most recently on Chrystie Street, which suits Ms Bode just fine. “She’s always been such an inspiration to me, as someone whom we shop with and as a person,” says Ms Bode. “She has such an incredible eye and archive, and you can see the way she sets up her shop is very much how you would hope to set up a domestic space.”
Ni Japanese Deli, Essex Street Market, 88 Essex Street
A Lower East Side mainstay, Ni Japanese Deli, Mr Atsushi Numata’s family-run enterprise, has been providing vegan and macrobiotic delicacies from a bijou stall in Essex Street Market since 2012. Mr Numata migrated to the market’s newly opened complex across Delancey Street, but the grounding permutations of bento boxes, broth noodles, and onigiri rice balls of puckering umeboshi, all made to order, remain as dizzying as ever.
Classic Coffee Shop, 56 Hester Street
Classic Coffee Shop. Photograph by Ms Jasphy Zheng
Mr Carmine Morales’s Classic Coffee Shop is a modest, affordable New York luncheonette. They were once legion in this town, but are ceding ground to high-concept, soulless salad factories. Classic Coffee Shop is all soul and its concept has barely changed in the 40 years it’s occupied the shop next door to Bode. Think egg creams and grilled cheese sandwiches the way you want them, for a few bucks, no fuss, and with the genial proprietor manning the drip coffee. “Since we opened the store in November, we’ve gotten to know Carmine,” says Ms Bode. “He used to shop in our store when he was a kid, when it was a grocery.”
American Folk Art Museum, 2 Lincoln Square
To visit her favourite museum in the city, Ms Bode ventures a bit farther afield, to the American Folk Art Museum, whose illuminating collection of outsider and self-taught American art spans paintings, textiles, sculpture and photography. Since her own designs are steeped in the movements of American craftwork, it’s a place she frequents for inspiration. “Henry Darger has been one of my favourites since school,” she says.
Spicy Village, 68 Forsyth Street
Spicy Village. Photograph by Ms Jasphy Zheng
When in need of a dependable meal, the Bode team bounce from their studio a few blocks away to this homely Chinese restaurant for quick and fortifying hand-pulled noodles and egg pancakes served with minimal flourish.
Chelsea Flea Market, 29 West 25th Street
Much of Bode’s business depends on sourcing antique textiles, which Ms Bode repurposes and reimagines into her craft-inflected garments. She has become an expert in flea market anthropology, stalking the stalls of New England and dusty brocantes in France. Her favourite in New York is the Chelsea Flea Market, which recently closed after four decades on Manhattan’s West Side and was beloved as much for its ephemera as its clientele (Mr Andy Warhol would arrive most Sunday mornings and load up his Dodge convertible with piles of cookie jars). Its demise prompted a wail from New Yorkers, but their fears were soon assuaged. The market will flower again, under new management, in the spring.
Parkside Lounge, 317 East Houston Street
Parkside Lounge. Photograph by Ms Jasphy Zheng
In the evenings, Ms Bode and her team can be found in Parkside Lounge, the East Houston Street bar warmly known as “the champagne of dives”. Once frequented by jazz legend Mr Charlie Parker, who lived nearby, Parkside welcomes revellers looking for respite on the eastern edge of the neighbourhood. “The reason we return is because you never know what characters are in there,” says Ms Bode. “And they can actually fit in quite a few people” – no mean feat in space-starved New York. It’s neon-lit signage buzzes until 4.00am, a beacon for those in search of nightlife.