After the Women’s March, designers try to bring their new woke energy to the runway

NEW YORK — T-shirts, buttons and baseball caps symbolize fashion’s political awakening. So does velvet, billowing satin and bedazzled bodices.

Fashion’s message of power unfolds as poetry. Pure outrage has given way to resistance.

The designer Mara Hoffman was one of dozens of fashion industry folks at the Women’s March in Washington and she helped raise funds for the rally. She was hardly a newbie protester, but she returned to Seventh Avenue inspired and energized.

“The turnout was unbelievable to me. There was this kind of ‘holy cow’ moment; these women just pulled off something I’ve never seen before,” Hoffman said in an interview before her Monday afternoon show. “In response to seeing that incredible thing happening, how do you continue that?”

Specifically, how does a fashion designer add to the momentum? Can fashion even do such a thing and not have it be awkward, ponderous or silly?

Beginning with the menswear shows earlier this month, the runways here have been filled with examples of designers expressing their political point-of-view, their outrage at the Trump administration, their melancholy over the direction of the country, their fears.


But after catharsis, what comes next? “We all got so revved up, but what do we do when we go home?” she said.

Hoffman decided to invite Bob Bland, Linda Sarsour, Carmen Perez and Tamika Mallory — the women who took the lead in organizing the march in Washington — to participate in her runway show. Hoffman wanted them there to speak, to underscore their leadership and highlight their strength — as well as celebrate their beauty.

“This is what I’m doing with my spotlight,” Hoffman said. “This is what I’m doing when people are paying attention to me.”

Chris Alexakisart, women, government