NEW YORK — While most Iowans would rather not dwell on the state’s unforgiving winters, Jeffrey Dodd was inspired by all those frost flowers and snow windrows for his first signature collection.
After two years of working in design at Rachel Zoe, Dodd, a Pratt Institute alumnus, exited the company last year to venture out on his own. Born and raised in Iowa, he tapped into his home state for design inspiration for his label’s first fall collection. During an interview in his SoHo showroom here last week, Dodd explained, “Everything is based off snow drifts. I’m from Iowa, so when I go home in the winter, there is snow and frost. There are frost flowers, which happens when frost comes up from the ground and it forms floral shapes.”
Similar circular forms can be found in the draping of a double-faced georgette blouse and gown. A distressed sequin gown is meant to look as though it has been blasted with frost, when the reality is a sander did the trick. Tied as he is to the Hawkeye State, Dodd is also dedicated to New York, where he has lived for several years. His collection is made in New York and the designer often visits the local factories on a daily basis.
Dodd, whose design studio is a block or two from his showroom, does his own sketching, sews his own samples and does a lot of the draping and patternmaking. “I just like to be involved with the whole process,” he said. “I’m a one-man show, so there is a lot of time management and long hours. But I like working with my factories to see how things are actually made and constructed.”
Prior to working for Zoe, Dodd learned the ins and outs of production through Twentyten, a label he started with David Krause and Nina Zilka, which was disbanded after five seasons in April 2011.
Before opening his own business, Dodd kept sewing, sketching and making patterns after-hours so as not to lose those skills. While he enjoyed working on Zoe’s special projects, such as the customized gold sequin gown Karolina Kurkova wore to the 2012 Met ball, Dodd said he missed being involved in the whole [production] process and having his vision fully listened to. “Being able to build things from the ground up is what I really wanted to do. I missed going to the factories,” Dodd said.
In his design studio, he listens to a lot of National Public Radio or watches the news. “When I hear certain things that are negative or positive, it does affect the emotion that I’m feeling, which does translate to what I’m designing,” Dodd said. “I always create a dialogue or story of a woman in her own space. For fall, this woman comes back from the desert and her house has been overgrown by the garden. And then the snow drifts come inside. And the garden’s orchids, roses and peonies look like they have been hit with frost. That’s where these shapes come from.”