Photography Mitchell Sams

vaquera puts a demented spin on high school cliques

Broken cheerleaders and goth prom queens took over a school cafeteria on the Lower East Side for spring/summer 19.

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Sep 12 2018, 4:55pm

Photography Mitchell Sams

Depending on how cool you were as a teen, Vaquera’s show could induce either a state of happy nostalgia or blind panic. Patric DiCaprio, Claire Sully, and Bryn Taubensee presented their spring/summer 19 collection in the actual school cafeteria of P.S. 042 Benjamin Altman on the Lower East Side — a timewarp complete with scattered crayons, paper planes, and open seating anxiety. Fashion often gets compared to high school, but in Vaquera’s world, narratives are never half-baked: this one was a surrealist graduation party featuring the LSD-spiked punch from Gaspar Noé’s Climax. Demented cliques comprised broken cheerleaders, fuchsia gym bats, mall goth heartthrobs, surrealist science nerds, and prom kween vampires. The New York Times’s Matthew Schneier even did an A+ impression of a footballing vampire slayer. As the soundtrack morphed from the spooky Harry Potter score to an abrasive club mix of Gwen Stefani’s “Don’t Speak” to an extended stretch of foreboding silence — a sound so rare at fashion shows it catches you totally off-guard — you weren’t sure whether to be amused or a bit terrified.

Shapes and fabrics skewed 80s, including oversized three-piece suiting and puffy prom dress ruffles. Vaquera’s unisex spirit really shone in those garments with gendered connotations: linebacker shoulders were done in pastel florals and worn with pumps, football pants lacing was used on a corset top bedazzled with hundreds of silver referee whistles, and prom gowns were recontextualized as athletic shorts. Another genius move was rendering suits and gowns in soft grey sweatshirt fleece. On the flipside, the trio showed off some really exceptional tailoring — generously cut zoot pants, in dark denim and metallic pink, are sure to be a hit with fans of all ages. For a collection so rooted in school tropes, it was actually very grown-up.