As we waited behind a camera crew to interview Vena Cava designers Lisa Mayock and Sophie Buhai at their presentation at Milk this afternoon, two tiny but very well-dressed older ladies — one with gray hair and one with a blonde bob — were waving anxiously at what appeared to be us. Turns out they were cheering on their daughters. Lisa and Sophie turned around and a cacophony of girly squealing emanated from the foursome. “Mom!!!” they cried and exchanged hugs. Apparently, Momma Vena and Momma Cava come to every show, and the designers are anything but embarrassed by it. “They’re adorable!” Sophie said. “They always wear head-to-toe Vena Cava.” They even style themselves. “My mom and I talk about it on the phone, we discuss and strategize, and then when I go home to L.A. I try everything on with her and we talk about it and make outfits. It’s fun,” Lisa said. No mom jeans here!
The spring 2010 collection was inspired by a tribe in South Africa that Lisa and Sophie discovered in books at the Brooklyn Public Library — and by Gianni Versace. The prints and beading in the collection were inspired by the South African wall murals, while one of the most standout pieces of the new line — a crop top made entirely of safety pins — was culled from nineties Versace.
As runners-up for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, the designers earned $50,000 to help grow their line and got a mentor, Gap creative director Patrick Robinson. As a publicist tapped our shoulder, indicating our time was up, Lisa said the prize has “been hugely instrumental in getting the word out about our brand.” Every two weeks they go into Patrick’s office and show him what they’re working on. He gives them advice. He even attended their show today. As a co-chair of the next Met Gala, would he bring Vena Cava aboard to help him plan the ball? “I don’t know. We haven’t heard about it yet,” Lisa said. Before we could ask if they share a desk with Kanye West at Patrick’s office, the publicist came between us once and for all just as Vogue’s Meredith Melling-Burke walked up. We understand — our publication didn’t give them $50,000, after all. We wonder if Meredith was delivering the memo about the ball.