Born shares an inside look at the brand that’s making Fashion Week fun again
The first day of Paris Fashion Week is a glimpse into the future: one where acid wash makes a comeback, swaying fringe is in, garments must be reflective or metallic, and holographic discs float everywhere. These trends could be tacky and trashy, yet in the hands of Vaquera, it all turns into a subversive, chic fantasy.
Patric DiCaprio and Bryn Taubensee are the masterminds behind one of the coolest underrated labels in New York City. Since 2013, they have created fashion fan fiction by appropriating their obsessions to create iconic pieces like the heart pillow dress and the lifesize Tiffany & Co. pouch. Backed by Dover Street Market for Spring/Summer 2023, they brought their camp aesthetics to Paris for the second time. In this presentation, Vaquera merges the current American times—post-Trump, post-quarantine, law regression, ‘financial recession’—with French haute couture, from stolen flags from Long Island’s South Shore, to sailor hats that pay homage to Jean Paul Gaultier. A standout look is DiCaprio’s mother’s wedding dress, which is ripped open, displaying a baby pink lace bodysuit under denim booty shorts. An oversized bow is tied around the model’s head to match the exaggerated shoulder ruffles. It’s a functional take on Vaquera’s usual doll dresses, inviting others to bring uncanny taste into everyday wear.
Aside from Vaquera’s unmatched designs, another signature of the brand is their model walk. (Actually, it’s more like a run.) The models stomp down the runway in nanoseconds, demanding devoted attention. They don’t smize, instead holding moody expressions, faces filled with angst. They are edgy outcasts with heavy metal hearts, and their leader is Born.
Born is the quintessential Vaquera muse, dressed in a star-spangled bodysuit this season. She’s one of those girls who can pull off any look—from Vaqeura Princess to Instagram Baddie. The Kollektiv and Linden Staub model started her career in 2018. Shortly after, she met DiCaprio and Taubensee, who describe her as representing everything Vaquera stands for in fashion: “fantasy, fun, challenging the status quo, creating characters.”
For Document, Born shares her experience as the muse behind the brand that’s making Fashion Week fun again.
Madison Bulnes: How did you first get into modeling?
Born: I was working at a pizza shop in Pennsylvania and I couldn’t take it anymore. I knew I had to move to New York or I was going to rot. I had no plans at all. I only knew two people in the whole city. I feel like Cinderella now, going from slinging pizzas to opening a show during Paris Fashion Week.
Madison: How did you meet Patric DiCaprio and Bryn Taubensee?
Born: I was casted by Midland [Agency] for the Fall/Winter 2020 show through Instagram. I was happy for me, all my selfies, and the hundreds I’ve archived.
Madison: What’s your favorite memory with the pair?
Born: I can’t name the moment we all clicked. But early on, when I started coming in as the fit model, they started complimenting what I was wearing. We mutually got inspired. To me, there is no higher praise than finding each other inspiring.
Madison: How did you go from friend, to model, to muse?
Born: [Actually], our relationship went from model, to muse, to friend. My first show with the brand was also my first show ever. I couldn’t even tell who the designers were because there was so much going on backstage. Months later, I sat down in a makeup chair and was referred to as ‘the girl who saved the Vaquera show.’ I didn’t know if I was doing the look justice, let alone saving the show. I was never referred to as a model anymore—only as a muse after that one season.
Madison: What was your initial impression of Vaquera’s designs, and how have you seen them evolve over the years?
Born: If I had to bet on a racehorse, it’s Vaquera. The creativity and spirit of this team is evergreen. It’s new and exciting in a way that is inclusive. Maybe you’ve seen your neighbor wear a vintage sweater like this. Vaquera takes those notes of nostalgia and turns up the volume until your neighbor’s sweater is coffee-stained, shrunken in the wash, turned inside out and bleached.
Madison: In your shoots and in real life, you’re often changing your style. What’s your favorite type of character to take on?
Born: I can handle big looks; I don’t let clothes wear me. One of my greatest skills is confidence. We all have those moments where we look back at photos and ask, ‘What was I thinking?’ But in my case, it’s full Ghostbusters secretary cosplay or gothic vampire on vacation. For this Paris trip, I only packed ties, dress shirts, fake glasses, and blazers because I’m dedicated to the complete moment.
Madison: What is it like being on a Vaquera set, versus other sets you’ve worked on?
Born: There is an established trust that comes with walking on a Vaquera set. I don’t have to calculate if I’m being too much; I automatically know the character. On every set I walk in like a ball of sunshine—as long as it’s after 8 a.m.!
Madison: When taking these pictures backstage, what were you focusing on?
Born: I’m not numb to showing nerves, despite how many I’ve walked. Taking photos helps me to remember to slow down and savor it. I can look around and see what everyone is doing. I enjoy the butterflies—they help me walk. Instead of just stomping on pavement, it’s like crushing flowers barefoot. There is a gentle aspect in a strong walk.