Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Fashion Prevails at Coachella
The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival kicked off the summer this week and it has been at the forefront of my wish list for a number of years now. The line-up is always outstanding, with acts old and new, eclectic and common sharing the multitude of stages and tents that are scattered across the Californian dessert. Acts on the bill this year made every music lovers knees quiver and the fashion lovers eyes widen at the thought of both seeing groudbreaking performances by bands such as LCD Soundsystem, Vampire Weekend, Grizzly Bear, Fever Ray, Pavement, Julian Casablancas (the list is endless) and mingling with the star studded crowd dazzling in outrageous festival gear.
Coachella is blessed with the almost certainty of good weather, an advantage they have over some of their European contemporaries. It is an art form to be able to infuse style into the festival period as practicality must be taken into account. At Woodstock they took advantage of the muddy fields and turned what was initially a disaster for the festival into body art. This hippie aesthetic was motivated by the freedom music possessed, thus creating a freedom of fashion allowing people to wear what they wished in order to express themselves. There were no labels, just style, and that mantra is still witnessed today. Hippie chic infected fashion so much that it still permeates the catwalks today, and come festival season people imitate their favourite style icons; from Joplin to Hendrix, Karen O to Pete Doherty and everyone in between.
The trick is to partake in the festival spirit by being comfortable and not too fashion conscious, but still keep an element of your regular style as not to feel completely out of your own skin come day two. By mixing 501’s and blouses, the Woodstock crowd effortlessly, and unconsciously, paved way for the festival uniform of today. Denim shorts are a must, as seen on this music lover. Janis Joplin was lucky to have had Vivienne Westwood design for her when she mounted the stage at Woodstock, and many artists such as Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who has her good friend Christian Joy design her outrageous and colourful get-ups, and Blondie don designer gear on stage.
At this years festival there was an array of new fashion icons amongst the musicans performing. Personal favourite of mine who has been featured on this blog before was Victoria Legrand of dreamy pop duo Beach House. On trend with black leather shorts, Victoria's locks cascaded over a peach top and flashed her brown satchel to the street style hunters. Zooey Deschanel, the 'she' in country inspired two piece She& Him donned a baby blue number on stage which made her icey blue eyes pop and no doubt had the crowd at her disposal. Her lovely and innocent personality would never take advantage of this however. Florence Welsh of Florence and the Machine is making a name for herself in the fashion stakes, and this flowing cream ensemble with gold shorts from her performance set off her fiery red mane beautifully. Other celebrities who were attending the festival included model Agyness Deyn sporting a shaved head, Lindsay Lohan, Alexa Chung, Whitney Port and Kate Bosworth (who looked effortlessly cool in a blue tie dye jersey dress that will be on everyone shopping list this summer).
And it wasn't just the women who were at the forefront of the fashion parade at Coachella this year. Julian Casablancas performed in his usual leather ensemble, but this time embellishments covered his battered leather jacket and he teamed it with a white and navy stripped t-shirt. James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem banged out their new album This is Happening in a white two-piece suit with white t-shirt; a look that suited the overwhelming heat of the festival.
One thing that has consistently been at the forefront of festival fashion is accessories. Anything goes at festivals and be either as subtle or as outrageous as you like. Headbands and hats were on show at Coachella, an orange floppy one blocking the sun excellently on one festival goer. They hide greasy hair, necklaces and scarves conceal the curry-stained dress, gloves cover un-manicured nails, and coloured leggings or tights can distract anyone from your hangover state. The key is to derive inspiration from past icons, and indeed the icons of today such as Chloe Sevigny who always looks effortlessly cool at festivals, and last year at Coachella teamed socks with sandals and make it look cool for the first time ever.
The volcanic ash that is continuing to wreak havoc on European airspace prevented acts such the Cribs, Bad Lieutenant, Delphic, Talvin Singh, Gary Numan and Frightened Rabbit and the Chicago brass group Hypnotic Brass Ensembl from performing. This didn't dampen the festival goers spirits, however it has prevented some of the acts from continuing on their European tours leaving fans across the Atlantic disappointed.
Coachella has set the a high standard for festival fashion, and it will be interesting to see if the rest of the summer festie's can match up to the trendsetter. The next big festival scheduled is Primaverasound in Barcelona and with similar heat conditions to California, is sure to produce some fashion favourites and new looks to guide the rest of us through the summer. Here's a few that can get your thinking caps on...