Well, designer collabs have officially moved far past Target collaborations these days. Designers are partnering with television shows, movies, and more to get their names out there (and probably nab some extra cash to work with, too). If you survived the Beauty and The Beast and Star Wars crazes — which collectively brought about dozens of designer and fast-fashion capsule collections — then the next collaboration might actually be of interest, and it comes to you via one of spring’s most hotly-anticipated shows. New York-based fashion label and design collective Vaquera is teaming up with Hulu on a collection inspired by The Handsmaid’s Tale, which premiered today.
For the partnership, Hulu asked Vaquera to create a collection inspired by the show’s narrative, including a uniform worn by the Handmaids: a long red cape and white bonnet. “Hulu approached us to work on this project because we discuss similar themes with our own work. The novel has been an inspiration since the beginning of Vaquera because [of] its use of visual language to discuss poignant social issues. We are excited to work on something so groundbreaking and timely,” Vaquera told Refinery29. If you’re not yet familiar with the plot of the show, it’s first and foremost visually stunning, and the costumes do a lot of the talking.
Clad in blood-red robes with white, face-shielding hoods, the women of Gilead, a dystopian nation (after the collapse of the United States), face a totalitarian society in which men are superior. If that sounds all too familiar, well, that’s why we’re already hooked. The plot is based off Margaret Atwood’s acclaimed 1985 novel of the same name, and the lead characters are played by Elisabeth Moss, Samira Wiley, and Alexis Bledel. “We aim to reverse cultural norms, celebrate individuality, and empower oppressed individuals,” Vaquera explained of the connection between their designs and the show. “The way that people are dressed in the story indicates who they are and what their purpose is. We explore similar themes in our collections by examining the way people are expected to dress.”
All of that, then, makes Vaquera the perfect choice to bring the show’s costumes to life. The red, by the way, carries more meaning than you’d think. “Color is very important to the plot of the show because it is used to categorize people based on their physical bodies: The Handmaids are dressed in red, which is a color historically associated with violence, oppression, and sex,” Vaquera said. “We felt so strongly about the use of red in the story that we decided to make a collection of all red looks for this project.”
The brand first broke boundaries with its fall collection last New York Fashion Week, which included their own riffs on designers who co-opt iconic imagery of brands without proper credit, Americana à la Trump (with a flag dress that quite literally dragged across the runway), and more pointed industry topics that they manipulated with the Vaquera touch. For the four-person design collective, it’d seem making a statement is part of the brand’s DNA. And if the Handmaid’s Tale isn’t surreal enough given the current cultural climate we’re living in, then we don’t know what is.
The full collection will be revealed in a performance piece in New York come June, but for now, the team shared some behind-the-scenes photos of the collection being made. We may or may not need to get our hands on that “Maidez” jacket. And, perhaps come couture week, that sky-high bonnet, as well. Because, thanks to Vaquera, dressing up just got cool (and maybe a little bit weird) again.