Mara Hoffman Spring 2013 Show — A Journey To Hawaii
Every season, designer Mara Hoffman takes us on a magic carpet ride to a new destination, her clothing inspired by the landscape, architecture, culture, and lifestyle of that locale yet sprinkled with a sense of fantasy and whimsy that removes the garments from the literal realm and elevates them to the chimerical universe. For Spring 2013, Hoffman derived inspiration from Hawaii, piecing together a collection inspired by sandy beaches, coral reefs, crystalline blue waters, sunny skies, along with cultural elements ranging from contemporary surf culture to more traditional fare like ukulele music (the instrument was brought to the Hawaiian islands by Portuguese immigrants in the 19th century but locals quickly embraced it, crafting sounds that would become emblematic of their homeland), hula dancing, kapa (the often ribbed, carved, or grooved bark cloth utilized by native Hawaiians in the 18th century), and petroglyph art.
Always infusing a sense of joy and whimsy into both her designs and her shows, Mara Hoffman chose to open her Spring 2013 show, held on September 8th in the Stage in Lincoln Center, with a brief performance by three ukulele players, all donning garments from the Mara Hoffman sS13 collection. Once they had concluded their performance, models began strolling down the runway, with DJ Ben Brunnemer playing a set that fused island sounds and pop elements— and, in keeping with the laid-back vibe of the collection, models walked at a more leisurely pace than usual, sauntering along rather than trotting and stomping in a rapid-fire manner. To amplify the island effect, models wore red ginger flowers, surrounded by blades of grass, in their heads, along with leaf bracelets — all furnished by Taylor Patterson of Brooklyn-based floral and garden studio Fox Fodder Farm.
The silhouettes showcased were fluid and easy, with lightweight chiffon caftans and gowns ruling the runway, along with cheeky bustiers, bikini bandeau tops, rounded full skirts, shift dresses, modal maxi dresses, board shorts, slouchy pants, and midriff-revealing tops. And, as is her signature, Hoffman created several original prints for the collection. First, she showcased the “Aloha” print, a geometric pattern incorporating squares and diamond shapes, utilizing the print for pieces like a sleeveless shift dress (shown third below) and a bandeau bikini with a high-waisted brief and an underwire bra top (also shown below). Next, she revealed her “Medicine Wheel”print — perhaps the most stunning of the lot — which was inspired by the concentric circular shapes often used in landscaping, when growing medicinal plants and herbs. Steeped in tradition, these circular shapes are meant to celebrate the interconnected nature of the sky, earth, and water. The print, then, featured overlapping, medallion-like shapes, the interior of each circular shape filled with smaller concentric strips, each band assigned a different color and given a sense of texture via mosaic-like dots, floral motifs, and more. In a white, floor-length gown (pictured above at top), the print helped to add a sense of excitement to a roomy silhouette with oversize arm holes and a voluminous chiffon skirt. In a body-hugging, black modal maxi dress (shown second from top), the effect was much more psychedelic thanks to the choice of red, hot pink, lime and cyan greens, and turquoise to demarcate each circular shape. Another standout print was “Shields,” which seemed to evoke the shield clutched by the metal warrior statue adorning the entrance of the Honolulu Zoo’s African Savanna section. The print surfaced in such stunning pieces as a coral-colored maxi dress (shown ninth above) with spaghetti straps, a loose fitting bodice extending to the hip area and a ruffles skirt with layers of chiffon to add a sense of movement, along with a more body-hugging turquoise-colored sleeveless gown (pictured sixth above) featuring a dramatic side slit and triangular cut-outs along the sides.
When not showcasing her dazzling prints, Hoffman relied on vibrant color combinations, as with a show-stopping fuchsia and poppy red color-blocked gown (shown last above) or metallic, neutral, and mint green appliqués, as with the ceremony gown pictured above, fourth from top. To add a bit of kitschy quirk to the mix, Hoffman also crafted pieces like a semi-sheer cropped tank top with the word “Aloha” emblazoned on its center, the red, yellow, and green letters beaded intricately.
By the time the models reemerged for their finale walk, set to Harry Belafonte’s “Jump In The Line (Shake Senora),” I was daydreaming about moving to Hawaii, having a ton of surfer babies, and wearing each and every single piece in the collection.