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Vaquera Fall/Winter 2017

The show, held in a grand ballroom at the Ukranian National Home, was like a shot in the arm after a cold, semi-depressing week. Given the industry's stereotypical penchant for self-seriousness, it’s such a relief when fashion is funny, and the Vaquera designers are nothing if not witty. Those in the collective—Patric DiCaprio, David Moses, Bryn Taubensee, and recent addition Claire Sully—have such a finely tuned understand of cultural tics. They would make for genuinely excellent critics.

 

Take, for example, the chef’s hat. “On Instagram, everyone likes to post their food,” said Sully. True. And so Vaquera made a chef bride. I asked if they had been watching Top Chef. “I’m more of an Ina Garten fan,” said DiCaprio.

 

The collection as a whole was themed around the American Dream, and so it poked and prodded at particular American tropes. There were denim overalls, an auto body t-shirt, and a construction hat that referenced blue collar workers; a bolero jacket with what looked like military medals; a covered-up French maid’s outfit (worn by a male model, as Vaquera’s casting is always nothing if not inclusive); and a pearl-covered pajama look that read very Daisy Buchanan. “It was a lot about the American Dream,” said Taubensee. “This is the same as the girl who likes Audrey Hepburn, it’s this girl who has an idea of what she wants to be to escape the reality of things.”

 

Taubensee was applying the Audrey Hepburn reference to Vaquera’s most headline-making look: a dress in the shape of a classic Tiffany’s pouch, fastened with a thong in the back. Last season, the designers focused on basic bitchdom, riffing on Abercrombie and Lily Pulitzer. This seemed like an expansion of that idea. “Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Marilyn Monroe," said DiCaprio. "They're these beacons of hope for girls who live in the Midwest and aren’t able to be glamorous."

 

“We were thinking about industry versus excess and that sort of tension before,” he continued. “The election just made it even more of an exciting collection to make.”

 

Vaquera has always consistently played with Americana. But it’s clear that something like the Tiffany dress is infused with further meaning post-election (think of Tiffany’s placement next door to Trump Tower, and Melania’s famously awkward Tiffany gift to Michelle Obama). And the other major look was a gown made out of American flags, a massively long train slipping along the floor. “Under Obama, it would have been really bizarre for us to make this dress and have a flag dragging on the floor,” DiCaprio told The Cut. “But I think now under Trump the American flag’s [connotation] is… different.”

 

This can’t end without considering the lobster (sorry), shown on a t-shirt and matching tie. But it was also presented with a matching accessory: a literal bag of ice. As all of the posts I saw on Instagram post-show read, “Dead.”