Avantgarde-ness. Vaquera SS23

Five years ago, with bold attitude and confidence, Vaquera started out in New York and quickly became the most-talked about and hard to classify emerging brand in town. In 2022, the brand opens Paris Fashion Week and is backed by Dover Street Market, and yet it’s still difficult to put a finger on it. Patric DiCaprio and Bryn Taubensee aren’t doing conventional, mainstream fashion, but somehow manage to keep their avantgarde-ness commercially attainable: think great, over-sized jackets and too-cool-to-be-true denim. “We’ve really been pushing toward having more commercial clothing and that is still really important to us,” Taubensee said backstage of the spring-summer 2023 fashion show. “But it’s also important to remain true to what we did this for, which is expressing ourselves.” Enter American flag dress, made from faded flags that were stolen by DiCaprio’s friends from houses on Fire Island, its construction more ambitious than the one from their debut. A deconstructed wedding dress – safety-pinned at the bodice, spliced down the middle, and worn over pink stretch satin athleisure and denim cut-offs – once belonged to DiCaprio’s mom. They aren’t likely to put these pieces into production, but they are representative of the Vaquera spirit, which is irreverently anti-establishment. That irreverence came across in metallic “polo” shirts stitched with a lassoing cowboy instead of a mallet wielding polo player. Meanwhile, the acid wash denim’s faint yellow cast came from what Taubensee described as soy stain; “we actually use soy sauce,” she explained.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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All About Love. Vaquera AW22

Fashion fan fiction” is how Patric DiCaprio and Bryn Taubensee used to describe Vaquera: tribute clothes for a world obsessed with referential dress. Bringing their runway show to Paris and showing at Dover Street Market’s 35-37 space for autumn-winter 2022 is the ultimate fashion fan fiction come true. Now instead of idolizing runway legends from afar, these American designers have “started becoming the people who we idolized,” said Taubensee. Their craftsmanship has been on a steady uptick since linking with Dover Street Market Paris in early 2020, and this season they’ve made padded moto jacket puffers, tinsel-like sequin dresses, and airy angora knits that feel as high quality as they look. Bags have been developed for the second season and footwear is a collaboration with Vans alongside the same vintage shoes the brand has used for six years, repainted each season to coordinate with the collection. Love, in fact, was the driver for the Vaquera this season. Romance was never really a feeling one got at their all-bass, hurried catwalks back in New York, but a transatlantic journey, coupled with ideas of Maggie Cheung’s sensual performance in 1996’s Irma Vep, has made the Vaquera tone gentler. Now their big ruffles seem less campy, more tender. Their plaid skirts and schoolgirl jumpers feel like the clothes of teenage crushes, and their suiting is covered in professions of love. Even a hair clip reads YOU inside a jet black heart. The brand’s signature teddy, elongated into a dress, is now translucent and trimmed in white lace, an invitation to come closer, to see, and to be seen.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.