Byline: Karen Robinovitz
NEW YORK — Maureen Roberts and Michael Lublin share a love of other people’s castoffs. Six years ago, as Michael describes it, the two “bonded over finding junk and wanting to make something out of it.”
Make something they did: In April they launched Mo Mo Fa Lana, their collection of tie-dyed vintage slips and lingerie. Their vividly colored pieces are selling out at the weekend Annex Flea Market on 26th Street and 6th Avenue and are popular with actress Kirstie Alley and models Shalom Harlow and Kristy Hume.
Maureen, a onetime model herself, is an avid collector of vintage clothing. “I saved all of my grandma’s old stuff, mostly because I like different textiles and eras of clothing,” she says. “And Michael has always worn vintage.”
The two met when Maureen bought a ticket to Paris from the travel agency where Michael worked. Their similarities were obvious from the beginning. On their first date — actually, it was a trip back from the airport — “she had me digging through a Dumpster outside a flower shop to find a basket,” Michael says.
The two started a bluesy rock band called the Bowery Angels and moved in together. A year and a half ago, they started selling antique clothing — including plenty of vintage slips — at some of the city’s flea markets. By the end of the day, their stock was sold out.
Still, they felt that the slips, nice as they were, were missing something. “I wanted them in rich, gothic colors,” Maureen says. “And Michael wanted to design them.”
So the two resurrected the old tie-dye kit and got to work. In April they launched Mo Mo Fa Lana — a nonsense phrase used by a friend to describe Maureen’s frequent melodramatic outbursts.
The two live like vampires, staying up until 2 or 3 a.m. after nights on stage, dying slips in their kitchen sink. Their Lower East Side loft is crammed with clothing, some of it dangling from the spiral staircase. The items — which range from half slips and slipdresses to garters, bras and elbow-length gloves — can be found at the Annex Flea Market or seen at their loft by appointment (212-979-9595).
At any one time, they have more than 300 one-of-a-kind pieces, with most items made of silk or rayon. Prices range from $20 for a half slip to $35 for a full slip. They also do custom orders. They expect sales volume for their first year to be more than $100,000.
What’s ahead? The two are looking to move their line into stores, but haven’t yet made any deals.