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Vena Cava designers Sophie Buhai and Lisa Mayock showed their strongest collection yet. They played to the attitude of a skilled vintage hound, managing to keep that aura of elusive cool — an increasingly difficult endeavor when mining the thrift motif. The result was clothes  — from a cropped suede bomber to some beautiful swingy dresses — that will make as interesting, and viable, a turn off the runway as they did on. Here’s hoping that retailers will take note. A similar level of aesthetic restraint is something from which Charlotte designers Melina and Jessica Solnicki might benefit. To their credit, their combinations of densely cabled and open-work knits, ruched leather and textured fur indicated a yen for experimentation. But the talented pair fared best with simpler sportswear, such as a great-looking knit and a leather bomber worn with slim pants. Finally, Society of Rational Dress designer Corinne Grassini obviously wants to push the fashion envelope with pieces that were little more than lengths of satin secured with a harness belt. Maybe next season her ideas will gain some depth.

This story first appeared in the February 7, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.