One of the most exciting parts of my job lately has been collaborating with other creatives – in fashion, film, art, etc. – to bring moods, messages, and ideas to life using flowers and other natural components. New York City has no shortage of creative minds, and these kinds of opportunities allow for a lot more creative breathing room than the average wedding or corporate event.
I recently had the pleasure of partnering with sustainable fashion designer Mara Hoffman, who was dreaming of a kind of floral takeover in her beautiful NYC retail store at 183 Lafayette Street, for the launch of her Spring ’24 collection this past September.
Hoffman, known for her bright, bohemian fashion for women, and celebrated for her full pivot in 2015 to sustainable fashion design, wanted to create a memorable, nature-inspired setting for editors, writers and customers coming to view or shop her new collection.
At an after-hours evening meet-up in the store, Mara pulled out pieces from the new line, which was the best way to begin imagining the shape and color-way for the install.
Four days later on a Sunday evening, we installed a floral wonderland, and added finishing touches early(!) Monday morning before the first viewings were scheduled.
For this installation, we leaned into the bounty of summer blooms from local farms, seeking to compliment the colors of Mara’s new collection: Loads of hot pink Zinnias, fire engine red/orange Crocosmia, orange Marigolds, Dahlias upon dahlias – all sizes and shapes, playful Cosmos…
Celosias in neon yellows and bright orange reminded me of the rosettes and scrunchy “popcorn” textures that are a Hoffman signature. Cascading vines of Amaranth and unusual textures like Castor plant seed pods. Everything locally sourced. My one concession -- a touch of striking bright red Anthurium flowers.
Mara Hoffman's namesake label was founded in 2000 after she graduated from Parsons School of Design in New York City. She launched the brand with the aim of inspiring and delighting through colors, prints and bold shapes. Fifteen years later, Mara and her company shifted their strategy to build, and operate within, a framework of sustainability. This framework includes: innovative design and manufacturing practices, responsible fabric and material selection, and increased contributions to, and participation in, social justice movements.
The Hoffman team is steadfast in their commitment to reducing their footprint on the planet and celebrates their culture of sustainability. Hoffman puts these ideals into action by aiming to extend the life of each garment, limiting waste, and advocating for the communities least responsible for, yet most impacted by, climate change.
Hoffman was awarded the Environmental Sustainability Award by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) this year.
In the words of Mara Hoffman:
We are deeply aware of the paradoxes that exist as an apparel company speaking about sustainability, which is why our definition of the term is about a framework within which our goals and objectives can evolve. We are committed to fostering mindful fashion habits, and to acknowledging that we don't consume our clothing, rather we dress to work, play, relax, dance, and love. Our wardrobe isn't the sum of our buying habits. It is our way of expression, creativity, and empowerment."
The word sustainability is complex because of how differently people, cultures, industries, companies, and brands interpret it. For us, sustainability is a framework; a set of guiding principles to better every part of our company through the lens of climate and social justice. It is iterative. We keep ourselves accountable by measuring, learning, improving, and pivoting, all with the aim of moving forward.
I’ve never felt at ease in the fashion world – the lack of time I have to devote to that aspect of self-expression bothers me. Even time to shop thrift stores, or to research the actual most sustainable swimsuit, can feel exhausting or near impossible.
It heartens me that people everywhere – in all industries – are thinking critically about how they can partner with the planet, lessen their impact, and honor the hard work of people who harvest and process raw materials. The same issues plague agriculture as a whole, and of course flower, food, and fiber growing/harvesting/processing share many of the same equity and environmental issues.
Mara’s leadership in reducing her footprint, promoting sustainability in fashion, and advocating for social justice aligns with my core values.
We were deeply honored by the invitation to work with Mara Hoffman and her brilliant team for this year’s September NYFW launch of their Spring ’24 collection.
This partnership underscores the boundless creative potential when fashion and botanical artistry intersect. I can’t wait for more!
I strongly encourage you to check out the Mara Hoffman website, and if you're in the NYC area make sure to visit her jewel of a store, and her beautiful designs in person!