A few months ago when Gap's recent designer collaboration broke in NYC, you may have been confronted by one of the collection's soaring billboard images featuring three gorgeous models and two equally striking designers: Vena Cava's Lisa Mayock and Sophie Buhai. Did they totally outshine Raquel Zimmerman? Pretty much.
But being extremely devoted VC followers, we're not surprised the Vena Cava message is making its mark out in the world. And certainly much of that mark stems from the style genius of the designers themselves, whose mutual penchants for old and new textiles, uncommon historical references, and incongruous match-ups runs deep. In fact, we spend much of our time wishing Lisa--an expert at pairing beat-up sweatshirts with oversized silver chokers or party dresses with Keds--would impart a few of her style secrets. Lucky for us, we got a private tour of her newly made-over Williamsburg nest, which like her look, has a lost-and-found sort of elegance and ease. How does she make it look so easy? We wish we knew...but here are a few tips to get us started.
Lisa on the street in Williamsburg wearing a pot leaf shirt from "Salvation Armani" (what Lisa likes to call it when she feels fancy), Chronicles of Never sunglasses, and Vena Cava's boyfriend mesh cardigan. Her lipstick is from a Polish 99-cent store. She has a lifetime supply stashed in her freezer. Enlarge Image
In 10 words or less, describe your style. "How about three words: Confuse and Amuse. Some kind of incongruous element is always essential--a sweatshirt worn with a beaded collar, or a long black gown with an old E.T. pin from the '80s always makes me feel like myself."
Left: In the kitchen, Lisa wears a Vena Cava asymmetrical jacket, Marion Vidal ball necklace, old Adidas shorts, and Vena Cava for Via Spiga shoes. Right: Accessories galore in her covetable closet. Enlarge Image
Tell us your five key wardrobe pieces...the regular things you can't live without. 1. White Keds with studs on them. 2. Big silver jewelry—I feel kind of naked without lots of jewelry on. 3. VC black mesh boyfriend cardigan. 4. Acne pale gray men's shirt. 5. An ancient black shredded sweatshirt.
In the living room surrounded by some faves from her record collection, Lisa wears her favorite ripped sweatshirt and a Jane D'Arensbourg glass and ceramic necklace. Enlarge Image
What are your earliest memories of fashion? Things that made you feel early on you wanted to be a designer... "I had a best friend growing up whose mom had the most incredible style—solid silk dress-suits with short pencil skirts, a severe black bob, and large colorful stones. I remember wanting to touch everything she had on—it was like visual candy."
Left: In the bedroom wearing a sequined Clements Ribeiro dress that leaves a trail of neon sequins everywhere she goes. Right: A Mary Meyer shirt hangs in the closet adorned with beaded necklaces. Enlarge Image
You can only wear two designers: Who would they be? "'70s-era YSL and Gilbert Adrian."
Do you wear your own designs? "Yes."
Porcelain hand forms, a Jane D'Arensbourg necklace, and a bowl of vintage beaded jewelry displayed on a credenza in the closet. Enlarge Image
We all loved your recent Gap collab. Do you have any mainstream basics? If so, how do you like to wear them? "Yeah! I love plain indigo skinny jeans with some kind of funny oversized T-shirt or sweater, a classic men's style button-up shirt with leather leggings, or wrapped around the waist with a short skirt, and I have a very oversized men's Carhart jacket that I like to wear with dresses when I feel like they're a little too girly."
In front of an Egyptian watercolor in the kitchen, Lisa wears a fringed Vena Cava dress. Enlarge Image
What wouldn't you be caught dead wearing? "That's a difficult question. I often have complete changes of heart about certain looks. And I love things that are good taste/bad taste and other things that are just plain tacky. So, honestly, the only thing I can think of right now that I would never wear is a 'sexy' Halloween costume. Which you may see me in come October."
Left: Lisa wearing a vintage crochet dress in her closet (if you can even call it that). Right: A giant pencil rests in a nook in the closet—it recently provided hours of entertainment at one of Lisa's dinner parties. Enlarge Image
Name something in your wardrobe you'll never throw away? "Old T-shirts, sweatshirts, and leather pieces...they just keep getting better with time."
Not that we're surprised, but your apartment is off-the-charts cool. And we hear you just gave it a little makeover...what look were you going for? "If I had to give it a name, it would be called 'Things I Like.' That was pretty much the only criteria."
Left: Her favorite slashed sweatshirt. Right: A porcelain monkey hangs in the living room above a pile of pillows to break its fall (should it take a dive). Enlarge Image
You're a Brooklyn lady, but if you could would you pack up and live somewhere else? "Udaipur, India was the most strange and wonderful place I've ever been to. There's a thick layer of mist over everything, dense green foliage that looks like the jungle, a castle in the middle of a lake, and they sell medieval weapons on the street. What else do you need?"
A welcoming chair in the living room. Enlarge Image
If your style had a theme song, what would it be? "'All Hell Breaks Loose' by the Misfits."
Lisa in the kitchen wearing a mens shirt by Acne, a Tuleste silver choker, a ring from a street cart in Oaxaca, and Vena Cava leather leggings. She just started reading 2066. Enlarge Image
Photography by Kava Gorna, www.kavagorna.com For more on Vena Cava, check out their new blog, vivavenacava.blogspot.com
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Photography by Kava Gorna/Jed Root