You can take the designer out of the art world, but you can’t take the artist out of Mara Hoffman. Now more than a decade into her career, the former Parsons and Central St. Martin’s wunderkind is grown-up and all pro. Having achieved a rare and impressive balance between drive, stamina, skill and imagination, Hoffman sets the bar higher season after season. Her work continues to be as aesthetically inspired and technically inventive as it is commercially viable, and this week’s unveiling was no exception.
Hoffman’s affinity for performance was evident right away: While tinted spotlights slowly revealed a runway in wait, three banjo-strumming sirens set the show’s tone by playing a sweet little cabana number, happily swaying to the beat and bobbing out of sync. Just when the crowd was fully hushed and mellowed out—hundreds of camera lenses relaxed off that precious first shot—the decoys seemed to vanish in thin air and the first look exploded onto the runway, reigniting the room and jolting the audience back to attention.
Hoffman is famous for her original prints and easy laid-back style, so she managed to get by with just a handful of loose, beach-friendly shapes, designed to show off detailed pattern work rather than fit. And even though the collection is overtly tropical in temper and design, Hoffman grounded each look in a strong enough base color—think coral, navy and black—to defend against pigeonholing. Meaning, this is not (just) resort wear. Hoffman’s Spring line, like everything else bearing her mark, is sui generis. And it’s fantastic.