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Vaquera
Courtesy Vaquera

Inside Vaquera’s new Handmaid’s Tale-inspired collection

The NY design collective are subverting oppression by reworking totalitarian garments

How New York design collective Vaquera ended up creating a collection to coincide with dystopian Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale is anyone’s guess, but they seem the perfect fit for dismantling oppression with their stereotype-averse garments. 

The Hulu series, which is now available to stream, is based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale. It takes place in a future society formerly known as the United States, called Gilead, where a totalitarian regime has risen to oppress its people. To offset a plunging birthrate, the remaining fertile women (a Handmaid named Offred, among them) are forced into sexual servitude in order to repopulate the world.

Vaquera – which is Patric DiCaprio, Bryn Taubensee, David Moses, and Claire Sully – are creating a collection riffing on the outfits worn by those women groomed to bear children in a dystopian future. A bonnet and a red cape were all the designers had to go on as a starting point.

“Our concept is to subvert the dystopian mode of dress in the story by creating Handmaid inspired looks that question oppression versus empowerment,” the collective says. “We are interested in discussing contemporary iterations of the Handmaid's uniform and the way they contrast with clothing that is designed to empower the wearer.”

Atwood’s book returned to the bestseller list as President Trump took office back in January. The irony is not lost on Vaquera, who hope that their collection can speak to the suffocating oppression we face today.

“The novel and show are reminders of the implications of a police state,” Vaquera continue. “We are interested in the similarities between our current political climate and the society described in the story. There are systems already in place that terrifyingly similar to those in the story.”

The collection will be revealed this June, in a performance rather than a typical runway show. “We are exploring a more performative mode of presentation. We want to involve the audience more.”