Last season Mara Hoffman used her signature popcorn texture and florets to give visual expression to the explosive nature of passion. She took things in another direction for spring as she sought the beating heart of simplicity. “I’ve been really contemplating and playing with that idea,” she said during a walk-through. “How do we make it less complicated and get to the point? The point here is I’ll get you to point B in the most elegant and refined way I know how to do.”
Hoffman offered two paths to your destination; one was metaphorically by way of the forest, the other more floral. Simplicity can refer to the absence of decoration, and the designer leaned into a sort of utilitarianism, though there was nothing rugged about a chic cloud-white hemp suit, nor a pair of railroad stripe pants: both were quite tactile. Hoffman’s commitment to sustainable practices has led her to work with many natural fibers (crisp hemp, soft and dense organic cotton) and she has developed a sort of language of textures. This season, the surfaces of the materials seemed to refer back to nature; for example, a puckered material used for a black dress resembled bark.
Of late, many of us are craving something to hold onto; a wish, a belief, or something more steadying like a hand, or maybe a dress. In touching the body, clothing makes us aware of our flesh-and-blood existence; it also holds us in its embrace. Hoffman addressed that aspect of attire through the hero pieces in this collection, which curved, petal-like around the body. The idea, said the designer, was to “bring some beautiful sculptural knowledge to the flower world.” She also had playfulness in mind, best expressed in the styling of a white button down and a curvy black dress with an exaggerated (think ’80s proportions) ruffle that tapered from broad shoulders into a V-neck. Business below, party on top? Or a good read of the many roles women have to play? “We’re supposed to present one way, but on the inside things are kind of a mess, and I’ve been feeling like both versions of that,” the designer said. “There’s an undoneness, too, that I wish we could tell the truth about a little bit more.” Life is messy; Hoffman’s spring collection will clean you up nicely.