The American Rebellion as designed by Vaquera SS23
My notes on Vaquera SS23.
Within the first hour of leaving the Vaquera SS23 show in Paris, I immediately opened my notes app and wrote “fantasy mall zumiez sailor punk america war lady liberty hot topic my chemical romance"
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There aren’t many brands that I can name off the top of my head that truly encompass “camp” in my understanding of the word. I usually find that anyone who uses the word ‘camp’ to describe unironically in fashion has been completely misled by the 2019 Met Gala and will automatically label ugly garments as… camp. However, the show displayed a real sensibility of aesthetics. It was as much as a historical presentation as it was a cool, punk yet elegant, anti-establishment fashion show. This effect was also exasperated by the undone, half painted, construction site that is the 35-37 gallery, soon to be Dover Street Market Paris.
Sponsored by Air Jordans (which is as America-themed as it gets), I spotted silhouettes and designs ranging the 1950s cone bra, sailor hats and marines uniform-inspired dresses, repurposed stolen American flags from Fire Island, acid (actually soy-sauce) washed denim, leather fringe, exaggerated varsity/preppy tops.
The show was a chaotic dream, and it was the American dream. As the models stormed in their iconic haste runway walk, the collection felt best described as a rebellion of taste. By using such recognizable pieces from American fashion history, I can’t help but make contextual and historical observations, to the 1950s, juxtaposed with the the early 2000s specifically.
With World War II coming to an end, ergo giving rise to a culture of glamour and American “prosperity”1, within economy, military, and patriotism overall, this created the perfect breeding ground to two very important details- the glamorization of the military, and the popularization of cone bras, or more commonly known as “bullet bras” (name reflecting the times), to increase morale in American soldiers. We see this through Vaquera’s physical and symbolic usage of sailor hats, denim (culturally labeled as the cool, anti-establishment material of the 1950s), and most notably the stolen American flag dress.
But when you look other elements of Vaquera’s most recent show, we also see iconic archetypal pieces reminiscent of early mall days that displayed the rumblings of fast fashion designs. With remixed punk music down the runway, paired with looks of iron-on kitschy patches, type-font tights, exaggerated polos and preppy varsity tops, graphic mesh tees, and Air Jordans, I couldn’t help but think of punk kids at Hot Topic, mall-core, and the 2007 recession.
Elements of early 2000s displayed the middle-class, suburban upbringing, the rise of anti-establishment due to decline in American morale, alongside capitalistic packaged individualism (i.e. selling punk gear at the mall lol) was paired with elements of prosperous dominance, patriotism and willing collectivism of the 1950s made this one of Vaquera’s strongest shows yet. I found that this display of the modern American identity and family of shared aesthetics throughout the decades truly beautiful and by all definitions, camp. I felt that this particular show, had the strongest visual language and story, with powerful references to other designers, like Gaultier’s cone bra corset.
With that in mind, I also would like to note that I would personally wear each and every single piece that was on the runway. Pictured below is a blurry photo I took of one of my personal favorite looks - featuring a distressed wedding gown that once belonged to Patric DiCaprio’s mother, paired with denim cut-offs and tights. To me, this look encompassed one of the show’s successful attempts at beautifying sacrilege.
I am honored to have watched one of my best friends, Born walk such an amazing show, but I am also deeply humbled and grateful to have been able to attend my first show at Paris Fashion Week :D
Born sported two looks, but my favorite one had to be her Lady Liberty star-spangled banner bikini look (pictured above.) A true show-stopper. I love clothes <3.
I use the word “prosperity” in quotations here. Use my discernment for that one.