Vaquera, designed by four twentysomethings, will show its fall collection this evening — with designs inspired by an American icon: Tiffany & Co.
The collection is an homage to Tiffany in the early-Aughts when the design collective’s members — David Moses, Patric DiCaprio, Bryn Taubensee and Claire Sully — were teenagers.
Then, the Tiffany heart tag bracelet was a status symbol in middle-school hallways — and beyond — nationwide. As such, Vaquera has made the design its own — re-creating a heart-shaped, sterling silver tag to say: “Please return to Vaquera & Co. NYC.” Tiffany’s famous robin’s egg blue jewelry pouches have been supersized as handbags — also bearing the Vaquera name.
The collection comes as Tiffany itself is facing challenges. In the last month, the company has replaced its design director, Francesca Amfitheatrof, and pushed out its chief executive officer Frederic Cumenal. It has tasked new chief artistic officer Reed Krakoff to turn around the business, and attract a younger consumer.
Vaquera’s collections are an intellectual pursuit, making commentary on the group’s teenage years. They often meld elements of fashion nostalgia from the George W. Bush era with harsher realities of their lives as New York City creatives.
For spring 2017, the group took inspiration from Abercrombie & Fitch — combining hallmarks of American high-school jocks with totems of the gender-fluid social group in which the Vaquera designers now circulate.
“We wanted to do something about the American dream again,” DiCaprio said of tonight’s show. “We’ve found a good way to work is to have a certain store in mind. Last season it was Abercrombie, and this season we wanted to do something kind of teasing that New York girl who decorates her bathroom with a Paris theme, but has never been to Paris. She loves Audrey Hepburn and ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s,’ so Tiffany-type jewelry has naturally been a part of the collection from the beginning.
“Kind of talking about it in the same way we talked about Abercrombie — this gross, tacky way people define wealth and social status.”
DiCaprio — who grew up in Alabama, attending a Catholic school — felt particularly touched by Tiffany as a teen in the early Aughts, when status symbols ruled consumer culture.
“This collection — it’s about living in the Midwest, thinking, ‘I want to be a New York girl, I want to live this romantic lifestyle — so buying the Tiffany piece will help me get that vibe,'” he said. “It’s so cheesy — you can’t not be obsessed with that kind of young naïveté. Girls who are obsessed with things that they don’t know about, yet they remain this beacon. It’s like, ‘I’m stuck here, but can get taste watching Audrey Hepburn.’”
DiCaprio was unaware of Tiffany’s latest business woes when speaking with WWD. “We started this collection way before any of this weird stuff happened with Lady Gaga [in their Super Bowl commercial] and Melania Trump [giving Michelle Obama a Tiffany gift on the day of the inauguration] — but they are occurrences that have made me even more obsessed,” he said.
DiCaprio believes that for Tiffany to hit its stride again, “It has be completely changed, it can’t just be what it has been.
“I didn’t even know about Reed Krakoff. In order for people to have to pay attention again, it has to completely change — new context, new color scheme. It’s the same as Abercrombie. Everyone realizes it’s dated and to get over it, they have to admit it and embrace that old legacy. They have to prove it doesn’t have to be that way.”