Luvocracy favorite Vinney Le can be found all over the Bay Area and often all over the Trending page. While not working as the Dean of High School Programs at Next Generation Scholars, Vinney can be found enjoying one of his many interests: yoga, baking, music, and science (and parenthetical statements). We wanted to learn more about the mother who raised a man with such eclectic tastes!
Tell us about your mother: Where is she from? How did this influence her tastes and style?:
My mom’s style is, and has always been, defined by the big hair and bold shoulder pads of the 1980s. By boat and by bravery, she made her way to San Francisco as a Vietnamese refugee in the early 80s—right as shoulder pads were buttressing “power dressers” and AquaNet was billowing out from behind outrageous perms (can you imagine shoulder pads and big perms gettin’ all up in yo’ business on the 14 Mission? GUT ME).
Even though our family was transitioning out of the Tenderloin, my mom managed to stay current with fashion trends thanks to my pseudo-aunt who had a knack for shoplifting—a horrible, yet hilarious, confession she shared with me when The Man caught up with my aunt and took her away (also a horrible event). Henceforth, my mom’s foray into fashion ended abruptly and her closet doors were (excuse the pun) locked up, so to speak.
Throughout our early childhood, when my older sister and I raided my mom’s closet to play dress up (we all did, right??), we’d find clothing with all kinds of wild prints, crazy colors, all-sequinned-everything, and, of course, shoulder pads. They’re still gathering dust in her closet, though; most of them still have the original price tags on them. That is to say, my mom’s closet full of Dalí-esque Escada silk blouses is not an accurate reflection of her tastes and temperaments (although, some of her friends still joke that my sister’s and my initials of V.L. were inspired by Louis Vuitton…).
Truthfully, my mom’s day-to-day dress hails from the fashion houses of Goodwill and Garage Sale. She’s a shrewd and stubborn barterer at heart, but will break out the Escada on ceremonious occasions (photo of my mother and me out to lunch on my 24th birthday).
You’ll definitely see these influences in my mother’s day collection, I’m a Motherluver, You’re a Motherluver—I swear all of these things are hanging in my mom’s closet right now. Wait—is there a profit in these things? Private Mother’s Day sale happening at my mom’s house (can I say that??). ”Trust me” for more details…
You’re a Bay Area native. Did the unique culture and landscape here influence family outings and activities?
We later moved out to Irving & 22nd in the Inner Sunset when I was in elementary school, just a hop, skip, and a jump to Golden Gate Park where family outings cost next to nothing. We used to go out on Stow Lake (I’d get the pink popcorn every time) and walk through the Arboretum—the best back yard a kid could ask for.
The Conservatory of Flowers has always been my mom’s favorite; she loves flowers. As an independent immigrant woman, my mom has had to be very resourceful. She has been so many different things in her life: hairdresser, cosmetologist, wedding singer, florist, lunch lady, Special Ed teacher—a real entrepreneur. One of the many enterprising hats she wears is “florist.” I remember a lot of very, VERY (read: VERY!) early mornings (is it morning when the sun isn’t up yet??) when my mother dragged my sister and me out of bed to go to the San Francisco Flower Mart and help her carry bundles of flowers (one morning, she had the air conditioning on blast and was repeatedly spraying herself with water in order to stay awake on the drive!). As a result, she is all about the flowers and floral prints and I am very good at staying awake.
On these outings to the park and the flower mart, you can always find my mom in her trusty sandals—comfort and practicality or bust!
We’re obsessed with the wide range of unique recommendations on your page. Which ones could you most attribute to the influence of your mother?
I mean… I am my mother’s child. My mom and I would go bargain hunting together at local garage sales and flea markets in the south bay—paragons of eclecticism, really. To be honest, I was forced to accompany her completely against my will (paid childcare? Ain’t nobody got time for that!), but I quickly accepted the harsh terms of my imprisonment with every Pokémon card and umbrella hat I was granted. Out of childish greed, but mostly out of spite—naïve, spiteful greed (OMG my poor mother)—I developed a taste for a wide range of goods so I could try to get more things. Hopefully, I’ve become a little more scrupulous along the way.
Finally, any Mother’s Day plans?
We’re going to Disneyland! Disneyland with floral knit sweaters, umbrella hats, and Keen sandals—beat that.
Thanks, Vinney! This is undoubtedly the most hilarious Story we’ve ever published. Your mom is a hoot and a sweetheart!