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vaquera showed a human-size tiffany & co. pouch for fall/winter 17

The experimental New York collective reconsidered the American Dream in a collection we can’t stop thinking about.

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Feb 14 2017, 12:05am

It would be wrong to start anywhere but with the human-size Tiffany pouch. Or rather the "Vaquera & Co." pouch, as its lettering spelled out. It was cut from soft felt-like fabric in Tiffany blue and worn by a model like a reversed backpack that left her butt exposed as she strutted past guests at beloved East Village party palace the Ukrainian National Home.

"We were thinking about the American Dream," explains designer Claire Sully (one quarter of a team also comprising Patric DiCaprio, David Moses, and Bryn Taubensee). "We were talking about the girl who loves Audrey Hepburn and wants to shop at Tiffany." "We started with a necklace," continues Bryn, referring to another look that involved an oversized chain necklace with a silver heart charm the size of a grapefruit. "Then our stylist, Emma Wyman, was responsible for making the bag an actual look."

"We started working on the collection before the election result, but of course we wanted to say something about it. The Tiffany pieces were also a reference to Melania giving Michelle Obama that strange gift," says Claire.

The collection was overtly political in some ways — a dress sewn from American flags dragged a 15-foot train of stars and stripes across the floor — but, as the show notes reminded, "Vaquera is a constant exploration of American tropes and how they're sold to us." In other words, the collective has been playing with our national motifs — pilgrim getup, frat boy garms, and pop culture — since its first outing in 2013. So the designers' response to the current political climate was partly just to keep doing them. "It's important to still have fun and be true to yourself," says Claire. That dress, though, Bryn explains, was also intended to be "a beacon of hope."

More about the show notes: they also listed some important questions like "Why does everyone want to be a chef?" "It is more aspirational to work with your hands or do nothing?" and "Do we really want to look French?" The clothes were an open-ended response to all of these prompts: the finale look was a blancmange of a bubble-hem dress that took the idea of a pleated chef's hat to its furthest extreme. Other standout looks included a very modest version of a French maid's outfit; a grunge-green T-shirt bedazzled with a diamanté Eiffel Tower logo and accompanied by an incredible T-shirt-shaped handbag printed with the words "Je t'aime"; and a pair of dark denim overalls worn over a conical bra that embodied another question the designers had been mulling over, "What fabrics are white collar? Which are are blue?"

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The cast of models who acted out these various roles — as construction workers in heels or punks with purses — was as diverse as the clothing. "We wanted it to look like a really diverse group of friends," Bryn says. They even enlisted the mom of Midland casting agent Walter Pearce to walk. She wore a black-and-white houndstooth skirt with frayed edges, carrying a strangely glamorous velvet-handled tool box over her shoulder.

"We just want to make things we want to see in the world," Claire says.

Related: Meet the next generation of New York designers

Credits


Text Alice Newell-Hanson
Photography courtesy of Black Frame

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