Until five years ago, fashion designer Todd Snyder had been to Maine “maybe once in my entire life.”
But since then, the designer, who GQ once called “The man who taught men to love clothes,” has fallen hard for Maine. The ocean, mountains, and even the dusty barn coats have become sources of sartorial inspiration. Forget for a moment that Snyder grew up in Iowa or didn’t discover the beauty of Maine until he was 50. On the phone from New York, he’s starting to sound like a local, or at least someone from New England who is protective of Maine.
“It’s now where we go for vacation,” he said. “In New York, everyone goes to the Hamptons, or wherever, but Maine has become our escape. Don’t worry, we won’t tell the Hamptons crowd about it.”
Snyder’s love affair with Maine began when he was picked to design a runway collection for L.L. Bean for New York Fashion Week in winter 2020 (that’s pre-pandemic 2020). He made multiple trips to Freeport to research the company’s 100-plus year archives for inspiration and created a couture collection that incorporated twists on staples such as the Bean Boot, fair isle sweaters, and puffer jackets (reimagined as pants!). He even modified the iconic frontier blanket into a poncho. Think “The Devil Wears Duck Boots,” and you have the idea of what his runway looked like.
The collection earned raves, even, the designer proudly points out, from the Portland Press Herald. Snyder continues to collaborate with L.L. Bean, but what began as a brief dalliance between Snyder and Maine has continued to grow (insert pine cone metaphors here). His latest — and largest — Maine collaboration is at Hidden Pond in Kennebunkport. Snyder designed 20 bungalows (plus a lodge) at the 60-acre resort.
The bungalows are how an Iowan who conquered New York, put American men in fitted suits through his work at J. Crew, and then launched his own fashion line, sees Maine. That means it doesn’t look like the Maine that the rest of us grew up with or would expect. His first take at interpreting Maine through interior design at Hidden Pond came shortly after his L.L. Bean debut, and he used many of the same fabrics and materials. Like his Bean runway collection, he said the design of the From Away Lodge (because, as Mainers would say, Snyder, is from away) plays with “luxury and utility.” It’s an interior design tightrope of mid-century elements mixed with refined plaids, wools, and shearling.
“It was really about what Maine meant to me at the time,” he said. “It’s my first impression. I had a lot of time with the lodge because COVID had just hit, so I could immerse myself in the project. I just took the color palettes and patterns from the runway show and reinterpreted them.”
Since then, Snyder has partnered with more Maine companies, such as Sebago. But Hidden Pond came calling again, asking Snyder to design interiors for 20 bungalows.
“After the success of partnering with Todd in 2020, we were eager to explore more of our shared design vision,” Justin Grimes, managing director of Kennebunkport Resort Collection, said in an e-mail. “As a hotel, Hidden Pond prides itself on creating a sense of place that connects to the destination. Todd’s unique perspective and affinity for Maine have brought that to the guest in an entirely new way.”
For the bungalows, which debuted earlier this year and start at $850 a night, Snyder looked to three of his favorite parts of Maine for inspiration: The seaside, the countryside, and the mountains, and translated them into bungalow interiors.
There are some decor choices you would expect. His seaside-influenced bungalows are light and bright with natural sand tones, seagrass carpets, and striking shell patterned wallpaper from New England native and designer John Derian. He uses dramatic wallpaper to significant effect in the mountain-influenced bungalows, which are inspired by Mount Katahdin, Maine’s highest mountain. He revisits the L.L. Bean archives for the countryside bungalows.
“Creating a mood for each one was important,” he said. “I wanted to figure out how each would be similar but also explore the contrast. Obviously, color was the easiest way. At the seaside, it’s about sand, it’s about seagrass, it’s the dunes and the rocks. Moving into the countryside, it was a little more rustic. Then mountainside was a little darker. My thought was, you’re in this cabin deep in the woods, and you just want to be unplugged completely.”
As he heads off for another Maine vacation this month, Snyder said he’s excited to see more of the state that has stolen his heart. He’s come a long way from the man who once thought L.L. Bean wasn’t a real person. Now he’s looking to tell more of Maine’s story and convey it through fashion, but he promised not to tell too much of it.
“The more time I spent in Maine, the more I realized that the people there are proud, but they’re not boastful,” he said. “They almost don’t want you to tell their story. They have this great place, and they like it the way it is.”