Mara Hoffman is not afraid to take on a challenge—even in the face of a struggling consumer market. Her current collection replaces many of the label’s signature girly designs and bold prints with delicate colors and Indian-inspired garments, while the fall/winter ’09 collection takes a different, darker turn. Even with a nearly decade-old following, this is an enticingly risky move on the designer’s part.
Hoffman launched her label nine years ago, the summer after graduating from New York’s Parsons The New School for Design. “I was 22 when I started—I had so much energy,” she recalls. Doing custom work for celebrities and stylists and producing hand-made, hand-dyed and beaded pieces, Hoffman’s first orders started to come in after Sex and the City costume designer Patricia Field picked up her line for the show.
As demand for the label grew, however, “it was very hard to produce hand dyed clothes in big quantities, so about six years ago we moved to prints,” Hoffman says. Working with a team of seven people, Hoffman creates stories and customizes them. “The root of inspiration is always nature,” she notes, “but I am also playing with fantasy elements, mythology and a bit of magic.”
If the s/s ’09 collection was inspired by India, then the fall/winter ’09-’10 collection changes the mood to something a little more medieval. With a varied palette dominated by a hearty, olive green tone, the collection keeps the prints but adds something new—speaking through strong contrasts and evocative details. “For the autumn collection, we’ve still produced the prints, but we have focused more on knitwear and outwear,” explains Hoffman. “That is an area we want to expand more because this way you can widen your customers.”
And as if this move toward expansion weren’t enough, Hoffman will hold her first runaway show at the upcoming Miami Swim Week, featuring the swimwear line she launched independently last year.
For more information, see www.marahoffman.com.