NY collective Vaquera is seeking to outrun copycats with its SS16 collection, which is ‘about the art of making clothes’
In a few short seasons, Vaquera has become one of the most exciting emerging voices coming from the New York underground. Part of the maverick collective of designers that includes the likes of Vejas and Moses Gauntlett Cheng, Vaquera is a label that puts community at its heart – staging DIY fashion shows in subway stations and churches. For SS16, its founder and designer Patric DiCaprio (an Alabama boy and Christian school grad) put on a show that was more “about the art of making clothes” than making a quick profit, featuring his friends and collaborators – and even a baby. Alongside his new lookbook, DiCaprio discusses trying to outrun newfound copycats, making fashion with emotion and learning that he doesn’t have to do everything himself.
What were the main references for the collection?
Patric DiCaprio: Copycats have become a serious problem since my friends and I started getting press so I wanted to do something unexpected. I've been rereading all of the young adult fantasy novels I was obsessed with in middle school in order to tap into this sort of dusty goth/harlequin/steampunk romance/Pierrot mood. So it was that mixed with my other obsession at the time: Hot Topic. I was imagining the collection as the wardrobe for a movie about this group of punks who work together in a costume shop.
Why did you choose Alexandra and Jahmal?
Patric DiCaprio: I have known Alexandra forever and have worked with her in the past. She studied clothing design so she really knows how to activate a look. It was so difficult for Dillon and me to make selects because she was killing it in every shot. Jahmal is a friend of Dillon’s. Both have an air of precise elegance about them – they remind me of a lioness and a panther respectively.
What did you want to achieve with the styling?
Patric DiCaprio: I was Avena’s assistant before I started Vaquera. Often we would get super excited about certain styling ideas but would have to stop a bit short because of restrictions placed on us by who ever we were working for: ‘Oh that would be amazing but the client would never go for that’, or ‘I want to do that but we have to do this because the magazine needs it to be like this’. So I wanted the styling for the show and lookbook to be restrictionless – this was the time to do all of those bizarre things we couldn’t do elsewhere. I look back at some of the things Avena did during the show and I’m still in awe.
“I started Vaquera as a reaction to the fast fashion/graphic tee/predesigned sportswear movement that was everywhere a few years ago. It was and still is about celebrating clothing that has emotion”
Avena Gallagher: The styling for the lookbook was very faithful to the show styling. For the show, we basically just styled people as they came for the casting. We cast everyone who came until we ran out of clothes, and the looks were not so much predetermined as they were dictated by the individuals’ bodies, looks and personalities... most of the accessorising happened at the show. It was all pretty impromptu.
Why did you choose to show in a church?
Patric DiCaprio: I started Vaquera as a reaction to the fast fashion/graphic tee/predesigned sportswear movement that was everywhere a few years ago. It was and still is about celebrating clothing that has emotion. For me designing, sewing, and wearing clothes has become a spiritual practice. I feel like what my friends and I are interested in doing is comparable to a rebirth – it’s time to resurrect the spirit of intelligent design. Avena and I were discussing what environment would suit the collection and a church (The Church of the Resurrection no less) seemed appropriate. I had my first show with Moses Gauntlett Cheng in a church as well…
How important is a sense of creative community in achieving your vision for Vaquera?
Patric DiCaprio: Absolutely essential! Up until this season I had been doing everything myself: design, production, styling, PR, etc. But I realised that in order for this idea to grow I HAD to expand my team. I let go a bit and began allowing other people to work with me on the project and now I’m addicted! I’m looking for people to help me with pattern making, knitwear, and production. If you are qualified/interested hit me up!