Vena Cava's Sophie Buhai and Lisa Mayock are among a handful of New York designers not putting on their usual fashion shows this season. Instead, the duo hosted a dinner (see pics here) and invited 12 muses/friends—the actress Nora Zehetner and the Like's Tennessee Thomas included—to model clothes from their Spring lineup. Buhai and Mayock described the collection as a return to their roots, and the dresses and camisole-and-pencil-skirt combos were recognizably Vena Cava: delicate and feminine but not precious, with a vague feel of the forties. It was a definite improvement from the nineties-style looks of last season.

Mayock wore a black washed-silk dress with a deep-V neckline suspended from a padded rope collar. Buhai chose a longer, slimmer black knit dress with two thick bands of white piping down its front. There are other evening looks in the large collection, the best of which is a long dress in a (subtly tongue-in-cheek) marijuana print, but the focus now is really on easy-to-wear dresses, "the kind of thing a girl can throw on and go," they explained. Buhai and Mayock took the same cool but no-nonsense approach to their debut handbag collection, which is virtually logo- and hardware-free and retails from $275 to $550.

Eight years and 15 collections after graduating from Parsons, the designers explained that they're taking more advice from their team and listening to more feedback from their customers. We think the feedback for Spring will be positive.