In D.C., a Holiday Tree, Lingua Franca Style 

WASHINGTON Rachelle Hruska MacPherson has never been afraid to make a statement. The outspoken liberal entrepreneur — whose brand Lingua Franca became a cult favorite during the Trump White House years with its punchy progressive phrases like “I Miss Barack” embroidered on cashmere sweaters — was in Washington, D.C., this week to unveil the brand’s first holiday tree.  

The city’s stylish boutique hotel Riggs commissioned the designer to create a tree fit for the capital. “I’m so honored to be here in D.C.,” said Hruska MacPherson, whose brand name translates to “common language,” and is known for messages often driven by the politics of the moment. “This is where everything that we’re fighting for is happening, where we draw inspiration from.” 

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The cashmere-clad Riggs holiday tree features hand-embroidered crocheted garlands and embroidery hoop ornaments adorned with phrases like “vote”, “give a damn,” “peace on earth” and “dream on dreamers.” Visitors who look closely will also spot the Roman goddess and protectress of funds Juno Moneta — a nod to the hotel’s history as the building of the former Riggs Bank dating back 1891. 

Hruska MacPherson, who was joined by her hotelier husband Sean MacPherson, took the train from New York down to D.C. for the night to celebrate the tree and accompanying Lingua Franca holiday pop-up shop in the hotel. While toasting her guests she shared: “For some reason this is the only town I can get my husband to join me in. The last time we came here was for the Women’s March,” referring to the historic 2017 protest the day after President Trump was inaugurated. She said the night was filled with thoughtful conversations, exactly what her brand is about. “We are all about starting conversations, not just fashion. 

A close-up of the tree.

“We have been talking with friends about the election year we are going into. I’ll admit, I’m a little nervous about it,” said Hruska MacPherson, who started the brand after her therapist suggested she take up embroidery as a means to ease anxiety. “I did a few of these ornaments myself last weekend.”   

Creating a tree for one of D.C.’s most stylish spots was a natural fit, she said. “Lingua Franca is about spreading messages of bothgoodwill and cheer, as well as commenting on the zeitgeist of the times,” added Hruska MacPherson. “It makes perfect sense for us to bring the brand to D.C. We are excited to be hosted by Riggs.” 

The Riggs’ celebration dinner featured Lingua Franca embroidered napkins with each guest’s name. Hruska MacPherson said the year ahead for the company will bring growth across new categories, thanks to the brand trademarking its stitch and font, which can now speak to machines. “This makes the embroidery detailing more accessible.” It also enables them to roll out their signature slogans like “I read banned books,” and “abortion is self care” at different price points on sweatshirts and T-shirts. “Being accessible and growing the brand beyond cashmere is important for us. 2024 will be big for us in that way,” said Hruska MacPherson.  

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