Born in Buffalo New York, Mara Hoffman studied fashion design at Parsons and Central Saint Martins, before launching her own line in 2000. The beginning of her biography sounds familiar, as it echoes the majority of successful designers’ backgrounds and foresees the popularity she went on to enjoy. Then again the Mara Hoffman brand is not your average design house, meaning that when she first launched her label, then called Circle by Mara Hoffman, Miss Hoffman was less interested in creating a commercial brand that would sell a lot of clothes and more focued on expressing her point of view. That’s why most of the pieces she created were one-of, they were hand-dyed, often adorned with African ostrich eggs to symbolise prosperity and instead of runway shows, she staged performances with live musicians and dancers.
Fast-forward 13 years later and the designer has managed to maintain this unique, bohemian point of view, while at the same time transforming her brand into a sales-driving business, sold in over 200 stores worldwide. This is a balance few designers achieve, yet Mara Hoffman managed just fine by creating her infamous prints. They are bright, often inspired by nature or travel and have a magic way of lifting up your mood and your confidence; Mara Hoffman prints have become the designer’s signature. They adorn everything from the flirty bikinis and kaftans of the swimwear collections, to the perfect summer maxi dresses, to wool cardigans from winter collections. As the designer herself has said, she wants her clothes to be ‘trend-less and season-less’ and her prints allow her to do just that. When you are buying a Mara Hoffman piece, you are not buying into a trend that will fade away in 6 months time, but into the vibe and the emotion that the designer created through each collection; this might be the carefree Hawaiian spirit of Aloha from Spring/Summer 2013 or the fearlessness of the ‘woman warrior’ that inspired the latest winter collection.
As for Mara Hoffman as a person and not as a designer, it is refreshing to see a woman who has not been transformed into a diva because of her success. In fact, Mara says that even though she takes great pleasure in creating beautiful clothes and making women feel confident, she does not see herself as a ‘fashion person’, does not go to the glamorous, fashion parties and invests all of her free time in her husband and son. Oh, she also likes to motivate her team with yoga classes just before their New York Fashion Week show.
To put it very simply, Mara Hoffman is both a woman to look up to and a brand to buy into. Given that summer is finally here, nothing seems more appealing than lounging by the beach in Mara Hoffman prints. Here’s what I’d buy:
A classy midi dress that is that much more interesting thanks to its gorgeous prints and daring cutouts. A little backless and printed (of course!) minithat’s just ideal for those summer nights, where you dance until dawn. Lots and lots of beachwear, including the perfect baby pink cover-up to hide what you didn’t have time to burn at the gym, that romantic, feather-print dress that would be ideal to throw over a bikini and head straight to an equally romantic dinner and the sexy Pow-Wow bikini (the name says it all- also comes as a one piece). Last but not least, for the daring and the toned amongst us, an Aloha cropped top. For the not-so-daring, you can also embrace print on your iphone, with one of Mara Hoffman’s newly released cases.