Vaquera’s Spring 18 Show Pokes Fun at Stuffy Fashion & American Youth

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Illustration: Hilton Dresden. Photos Courtesy of Dan and Corina Lecca.

 

Designers Patric DiCaprio, Bryn Taubensee, David Moses, and Claire Sully, more succinctly known as Vaquera, have again poked fun at stuffy fashion shows and pretentious ideas of class with their Spring 18 collection.

The show was presented in a boxing gym in lower Manhattan—models stomped down a runway that twisted around a roped stage reserved for competitions of physical strength and endurance. Upon each seat a poem was written:

“I’m trying to think, About who I am, and what I want!!!!!!” it begins. “But instead I’m stuck on when I didn’t think about much at all. When my main dilemma was whether my outfit would read as surf when all I wanted was to be punk!!!!!!!”

As always, the collection appeared to tackle the concept of identity expressed through fashion—in seasons past, we’ve seen elegant chefs, women swarthed in gauzy umbrellas, working class attire and over-the-top Americana. This season seems to take a more youthful approach, calling back to middle school couture with its Abercrombie-reminiscent ‘Vaquera’ logos emblazoned upon cropped tank tops and fringed tees. Board shorts, tropical florals, and license plate-themed textiles reigned supreme, further reinforcing the notion of eight grade mall kids-gone-high fashion.

 

 

The show still felt, as Vaquera always does, very American, or, at least, poking fun at clothing that would, in another context, signify extreme patriotism. There was a giant t-shirt with Abe Lincoln on it, accompanied by a large cowboy hat. The characters created in this show seem more innocent than those of runways past, with their ripped tees and wide cut trousers.

Moments that truly astounded us included the final look, a giant gown made out of bathrobe material, as well as a floral dress with a giant bow tied on its front. We were also partial to the phase of the collection using a yellow checkered fabric, which featured a ruffle-sleeved, high-low shirt fitted ingeniously upon its model. They also struck gold with a pinstripe trouser paired with a skintight floral turtleneck. Take a look at some of our favorites below.

 

The CFDA/ Vogue Fashion Finalists Have Been Announced

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Illustration: Hilton Dresden

The ten finalists for the CFDA/ Vogue Fashion Fund are here, and each now has a shot and raking in that sweet, sweet $400,000 grand prize (two runner-ups will take home a cool $100K.)

Each one of the ten picks will receive mentorship and guidance from established industry creatives, and present a final collection at the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles in October. From there, judges will decide a winner and announce the top contenders in NYC on November 6. The panel, which consists of such legends as Diane von Furstenberg, Ashley Olsen, and Prabal Gurung, welcomes four new members this year: previous fund winners Joseph Altuzarra and Eva Chen, Saks’ Senior VP and Fashion Director Roopal Patel, and Vogue Runway‘s Director Nicole Phelps.

The finalists this year include some of our queer faves, including Vaquera, who’ve previously wowed us with their Handmaid’s Tale collaboration and alt-Americana inspired runways, and Chromat, responsible for futuristic swim and athletic wear and a new electric capsule collection with MAC.

Take a look at the full list below:

Ahlem Manai-Platt (eyewear): Ahlem

Becca McCharen-Tran (swim and athleticwear): Chromat

Christopher Bevans (menswear): Dyne

Victor Glemaud (knitwear): Victor Glemaud

Jordan Askill (jewelry): Jordan Askill

Matthew Harris (jewelry): Mateo New York

Eli Azran (streetwear): RTA

Sandy Liang (womenswear): Sandy Liang

Telfar Clemens (ready-to-wear): Telfar LLC

Patric DiCaprio, Bryn Taubensee, David Moses & Claire Sully (ready-to-wear): Vaquera

Vaquera’s Handmaid’s Tale Collection: Fashion That Empowers & Oppresses

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Photography: Michael Hauptman for Vaquera

Inside an eerie Lower East Side chapel and seated across from a woman in a chunky red leotard, moody noises began composing an ethereal soundtrack. We knew we were in one of two places: the scene of a high fashion cult sacrifice or the runway of Vaquera’s Handmaid’s Tale capsule collection.

When the NYC brand—composed of Patric DiCaprio, Claire Sully, Bryn Taubensee and David Moses—announced they were teaming up with The Handmaid’s Tale for a special project, we had very high, bonnet-filled hopes for what outfits might result. Our expectations were surpassed by the show we witnessed at the Angel Orensanz Foundation—a place that likely hadn’t seen such energy within its walls since Sarah Jessica Parker married Matthew Broderick there in 1997. The capsule delivered on thoughtful silhouettes, textiles and intentions, but above all, stayed true to Vaquera’s ongoing mission: to create characters.

“It’s something that’s at the core of our collections,” DiCaprio told OUT. “We do work about people that are oppressed, and we like to talk about a person’s individuality, and create these characters, which is the opposite of what’s happening in The Handmaid’s Tale. We’re very focused on the personalities. Once you put a piece of clothing on someone who has a great personality, it evolves and becomes something so much greater.”

Personality certainly took the spotlight on Vaquera’s runway: two models in red tunics and bonnets planted kisses on each other as they took their place center stage, while another stormed around the room chucking ripped up flowers at audience members with all his might. One look featured a woman in a thong and bra holding a pearly white umbrella over her heard, with a cocoon of silvery gauze shielding her body from the outside world. Another model ate a bag of oranges as he walked, letting the peels scatter behind him on the runway.

“We were all fucking weird kids,” DiCaprio said. “So I think doing something that speaks to oppressed people, or people who are weird comes naturally to us.”

In true Handmaid’s Tale form, the collection was grounded in stifling imagery that reflected a history of female marginalization: bound hands, a dress with the words, “Votes for Women,” emblazoned on its chest and a model dripping with sewn-together cone bras.

“The original theme for us in this was empowerment versus oppression,” Sully said. “We were talking about how, throughout the collection, as we worked on it, we realized that every look could be either empowered or oppressed, depending on the way you, the wearer, is wearing it. And so the cast was really important in that. And that individuality coming through with the way that they were acting, and the way that they walked, was really important to us.”

An eccentric, inclusive cast was essential for conveying the wide variety of identities being communicated at the Angel Orensanz Foundation. To accomplish this, the brand collaborated with Midland Agency‘s Walter Pearce, who’s known for discovering and championing unconvential beauty—especially through his work as Hood by Air’s longtime casting director.

Vaquera’s most recent fall ’17 collection tackled American identity, from long gowns constructed with American flags to cocktail dresses fashioned as oversized Tiffany’s bags. Through their collaboration with The Handmaid’s Tale, the burgeoning label continues to explore what it means to be a member of the United States.

“The election has obviously changed this country,” DiCaprio said. “We don’t need to say it. But America has a long history of oppression, and it was built on that. It’s sad to say, but it’s true.”

Moses underlined the importance of working with intent in fashion today: “I feel like we always talk about putting clothes out in an oversaturated market, and how it’s really important for us to have a strong message behind what we’re putting out there,” he said. “So this worked out very serendipitously.”

The individuality of each Vaquera look—a gown made from a wildly oversized hoodie, a high-low tunic incorporating seat cushions—comes from the designers’ understanding that fashion is a vehicle for telling stories about the wearer and the larger cultural context that individual is living within.

“I made a lot of looks with bras this season, so I feel like that must say something about me,” Taubensee said. “I was really interested in sexuality, and—I don’t know, it sounds cliché, if bras are empowering or not, but I guess the bra was somehow very poignant to me, and I guess that would be my personality this season. It’s hard to say exactly why.”

DiCaprio echoed Taubensee, adding that Vaquera likes to use clichés to raise questions, in this case, asking why femininity equates to bras? “You can make a simple answer to that, but if you think about it, it’s pretty complex, and cool to talk about,” he said. “Why can’t women show their breasts? Does that mean something? A nipple is bad, but you can see other things.”

With all these deeply complex conversations at play, Vaquera’s collection certainly felt cathartic, like something inside the designers’ minds had been bumbling around, desperate to escape into reality. And through their Handmaid’s Tale capsule, that something finally has:

“In middle school, I was dying to paint my nails black, and dye my hair, and wear tight pants, or whatever, but when you’re doing something like this, you put it outside of yourself,” DiCaprio said. “And I think that’s why people become designers—that’s at least why I do. I felt so much of that was like, “Get out,” And now it’s on the runway, and I feel relieved. [Now] I can wear jeans and a tee shirt every day.”

 

Vaquera’s FW 17 Show Was an Americana We Support

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Illustration by Hilton Dresden

Vaquera’s show Sunday night at NYFW was easily the strongest of the season with its cheeky subversion of classic Americana tropes, like the flag and Tiffany & Co. The collection included everything from Gaultier cone bras to 30+ foot star spangled trains and cartoonish hats rising at least a yard into the air. And yet, as absurd and irreverent as the collection absolutely was, each look felt distinctly chic, of-the-moment, and, somehow, extremely wearable. Every it-girl in the room left wondering how to get their hands on a Tiffany blue assless sack for their next red carpet appearance.

Among our favorite looks: a soon-to-be infamous gown constructed from the American flag, with a train so long we found ourselves shrieking with laughter as it snaked behind its model for foot after foot. We were also obsessed with a boxy red jacket reminiscent of Demna Gvasalia’s Spring ’17 show. A goofy tall hat evocative of the bearskins of ceremonial European military garb left us breathless and feeling naked on our heads.

“All fashion is referential, the New York-based fashion collective told OUT. “It’s absurd to pretend that you are creating something absolutely new in 2017. Instead, we embrace our references. Our work is about combining them in unexpected ways and recontextualizing tired ideas so that they seem fresh.”

On their favorite pieces from the collection, Vaquera said, “It’s exciting to make something super wearable, but I think we get the most excited about our more conceptual show pieces. The American Flag debutant dress, melting Oscar gown and chef/bride were all standouts this season.”

The show was bold in its pairing of high-class pseudo-French elegance with industrial, worksman garb. It’s assymetrical silhouettes, bizarre styling and consistent nods to a warped nation felt beautifully political and the “fuck you” to both our nation and safe fashion that we’ve been begging for. We were left awestruck, excited and hungry to begin our new style chapter of art freak-meets-Audrey Hepburn-meets-mechanic-meets-high-class escort.

“One of the only upsides to having someone in the White House that the vast majority of America distrusts is the unifying power of the resistance movement,” Vaquera said. “We are hoping to see some of the rebellious spirit of the Bush years return to pop culture. We wanted to express how disappointed we are with the current state of American politics without being completely  pessimistic. Positivity and hope are essential.”

Check out the full collection here.