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Mara Hoffman Fall 2012 Show — Tribal Shamanism Meets Bandidas Chic

Bohemian-flavored, tribal-inspired prints and gypsy-esque embellishments are part of Mara Hoffman’s designer DNA — whether whipping up a skin-revealing maxi dress, a beach-ready, caftan, or a heavy poncho, Hoffman is likely to incorporate folkloric imagery, beaded embroidery, and suede or leather appliqués. Last season, Hoffman ‘s designed channeled Frida Kahlo but did so in such a psychedelic manner that it felt as if Coyoacán and Mexico City were being depicted through a Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat lens. For Fall 2012, Hoffman cast a much broader net when piecing together her sources of inspiration, this time fusing together elements from cowboy fashion, indigenous South American civilizations (particularly the Mayans and Aztecs), and shamans (who can disconnect the soul from the physical body, transcend ordinary levels of consciousness, and make contact with the spirit world, in addition to using these powers to heal those around him). As Hoffman describes it, then, the theme for the Fall 2012 show, held on February 11th, was “South American Shaman Cowboys.”

As usual, Hoffman introduced a series of prints that fit with this overall theme: Tassels, a geometric print that, when viewed up close, includes the silhouette of knotted, fringed tassels (as shown in the grayish sage, persimmon red, lavender, and deep navy blue chiffon hooded gown at top); Magic Carpet, which features concentric rectangular shapes, each layer enriched with intricate details, all pieced together to resemble the types of rugs we’d associate with an Aladdin-like adventure (as seen in the long-sleeved, body-hugging dress pictured fourth from top, which has a bralet-like construction with a triangular cutout beneath the bosom and directly above the belly button); Meteorites, reminiscent of constellation charts due to the lines linking together spheres, arrows, triangles, and pyramid-like structures, many of these references to the Mayan calendar which, not not coincidentally, predicts that 2012 will mark the end of the world (Hoffman seems to both respectfully acknowledge these ancient beliefs and simultaneously dismiss them as one of many apocalyptic myths by incorporating them into her collection, which you can see an example of in the wrap dress pictured after the jump); Stars, a simple print featuring twinkling symbols of varying sizes; and Kilim, inspired by the Turkish prayer rugs.

Chiffon was by far the fabric of choice, with countless dresses that seemed to move in the wind, floating slightly or slinking next to the models’ figures. Silhouettes, however, varied while remaining fluid and uninhibiting — from maxi dresses with tiered ruffled skirts to wrap-around dressed with up-to-there slits and urban hood elements, kaftan-style gowns with asymmetrical necklines and wide sleeves, and scarf-style dressed with simple halter necklines. chunky knit sweaters, cardigans, and ponchos were also peppered throughout the collection to give it an autumnal feel but, truth be told, the entire collection felt more appropriate for a warm climate (its loveliness, however, isn;t in question).

Tons of printed scarves wrapped over models’ heads and around their necks, meanwhile, often worn underneath handmade felt halts by MLE Hagen, added a Bandidas-esque, turn-of-the-century, frontier outlaw element. The occasional baggy jumpsuit and poncho further added to the Mexican cowgirl theme. In terms of the shaman element, well, that was mainly achieved via the usage of transparent fabrics that billowed in the wind like mystical cloud formations. Perhaps the most powerful pieces in conjuring up this spiritual reference were the black chiffon pieces — among them a gorgeous sheer poncho (pictured above) with a V-shaped neckline featuring horizontal strips of fabric knotted at the center, and a sleeveless dashiki gown with a triangle-shaped brass breastplate necklace .

But the most beautiful pieces, in addition to the black pieces mentioned, were the hooded dresses — among them a Meteorites print frock with a va-va-va-voom slit at the thigh.

Check out more images from the runway show after the jump!

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