Los Angeles and an Identity Crisis Helped Shape Vaquera's Spring Collection

Courtesy of Dan and Corina Lecca

A coincidence?

The concept of an identity crisis brought on by Los Angeles is a trope that plays out both in real life and, ironically, on the Hollywood screen. But for the designers behind the buzzed about new label Vaquera, who recently collaborated with Hulu on a capsule collection for The Handmaid's Tale, it was a combination of the City of Angels and their own confrontation with the concept of identity that inspired their fourth collection, which the collective presented Tuesday.

"We went to L.A. and we got really inspired by California vibes, and we wanted to work that into the collection," said Bryn Taubensee in a post-show interview alongside fellow designers David Moses, Patric DiCaprio and Claire Sully. "The overarching theme of the collection is an identity crisis, and I think we realized that when we started to talk about California, we were in the middle of an identity crisis." 

While fabric shopping in L.A., the designers made time to visit the tourist-y sites, including the Walk of Fame and Venice Beach. The Venice Boardwalk vibes were especially strong in the clothes, with hints of the spray-painted souvenir tees featuring twisted and slashed cut-outs playing out in an oversize T-shirt dress, as well as brightly colored board shorts and bikini tops of the kind often spotted on the street performers and artists that decorate the infamously eclectic boardwalk.

"We love it there," added DiCaprio of the grunge-y Venice vibe. "It's so lit."

Credit cards were perhaps the most literal homage to the idea of an identity — a reference that bites in an age where it seems that every other day news breaks of another credit company data breach putting the identity of millions at risk. It also brought to mind the American Express card dress worn by Aussie costume designer Lizzy Gardiner at the 1995 Oscars, which was also held together by chain-link details.

A collage of American license plates, done in a faded brocade, was spotted on an 10-gallon (okay, maybe 20 gallon?) cowboy hat, as well as an oversize blazer and shorts. 

The four 20-something creatives, who themselves grew up across the country (Moses in New Jersey, DiCaprio in Alabama, Sully in Virginia and Taubensee in Indiana), toyed with the concept of American iconography, too, referencing the Hollywood sign ("Vaquera" replaced "Hollywood" on the aforementioned credit cards) and Abraham Lincoln — "the fourth most famous person in the world, according to Google," notes Moses. 

During the actual show, which took place in the basement of the Church Street Boxing Gym, where Whoopi Goldberg got a front-row view of the models as they stomped aggressively down the runway, the designers gave a shoutout to another artist who once struggled with the concept of identity, Avril Lavingne. A soundbite from an interview the Canadian punk icon gave when she was a teen was layered over Michael Kiwanuka's "Cold Little Heart," (recognizable as the theme from Big Little Lies), in which Lavigne laments, "I'm not punk ... I don't go around labeling myself." 

A line from a poem featured on the front page of show notes summarizes both the concept of the collection, as well as a common millennial conflict, well: "I'm supposed to be authentic, but it's not clear what that means!!!!!!!!"