Fash­ion shares spot­light with mu­sic at Coachella


“Fes­ti­val fash­ion” is a thing, and Coachella is the place.

The Coachella Val­ley Mu­sic and Arts Fes­ti­val, held in the South­ern Cal­i­for­nia desert on two con­sec­u­tive week­ends be­gin­ning Fri­day, is a style des­ti­na­tion as much as a mu­si­cal one — this year more than ever. Be­sides the ever-grow­ing ar­ray of off-site par­ties and spon­sored suites, there are now run­way shows and a pop-up fash­ion store on fes­ti­val grounds.

So what is the Coachella look? Think hip­pie meets hip­ster: lots of fringe and cro­chet, with a req­ui­site flo­ral head­band or floppy sun hat. Just google “Vanessa Hud­gens Coachella.”

And it goes way be­yond the fes­ti­val, which started humbly in the grunge days of 1999. Be­cause the event comes so early in the spring, when much of the coun­try is still de­frost­ing from win­ter, “fes­ti­val fash­ion” in­forms spring, sum­mer and re­sort styles.

Fash­ion­istas say a con­ver­gence of cool el­e­ments make Coachella a haute spot: It boasts an eclec­tic lineup of mu­si­cians (AC/DC, Jack White and Drake are head­lin­ers this year); its prox­im­ity to Los An­ge­les means a high celebrity quo­tient; and its au­di­ence is plugged into Instagram, so images of the fes­ti­val and its fash­ion span the world in real time.

“So­cial me­dia has had a huge in­flu­ence on ev­ery­one get­ting in­volved,” said Lisa Sugar, founder of life­style site POP­SUGAR.com, which is host­ing three days of fash­ion events in nearby Palm Springs, Cal­i­for­nia. Brands are seiz­ing the op­por­tu­nity to be part of the Coachella con­ver­sa­tion and see the fes­ti­val as a place to connect di­rectly with young con­sumers, she said.

“Mil­len­ni­als love ex­pe­ri­ences, and Coachella is just one great, big party. It’s a huge ex­pe­ri­ence for this au­di­ence to re­ally get ex­cited about,” Sugar said. “They plan for days what they’ll be wear­ing... So if a brand can of­fer them some­thing or­ganic, they’re en­gaged.”

Among the brands get­ting in on the ac­tion: Pan­dora Jew­elry, which is host­ing a three-day “Fash­ion Ex­pe­ri­ence” of run­way shows by de­sign­ers Tracy Reese, Nanette Le­pore, WHiT and Siwy Denim. Other fash­ion and ac­ces­sories com­pa­nies are of­fer­ing new de­signs aimed at fes­ti­val-go­ers. For Love and Lemons, a maker of high-end cloth­ing and lin­gerie, col­lab­o­rated with jew­elry designer Jackie Aiche on a cap­sule col­lec­tion for Coachella: Sheer, lace and flo­ral pieces to pair with spe­cially cre­ated jew­elry pieces that sell for US$275 to US$2,625.

“Coachella has al­most be­come fash­ion week for peo­ple in Cal­i­for­nia and LA,” said Kari Fe­in­stein, a pub­li­cist spon­sor­ing a “style lounge” in Los An­ge­les this week to connect brands with fes­ti­val- bound celebri­ties. “It’s be­come sort of an out­door run­way, but not for high fash­ion. It’s more for lifestyledriven brands.”

The Coun­cil of Fash­ion De­sign­ers of Amer­ica is adding the fes­ti­val to its cal­en­dar for the first time this year. CFDA chief Steven Kolb said Coachella shapes to­day’s fash­ion much like the Wood­stock fes­ti­val did in the early 1970s.

“It’s the cu­ra­tion of artists and di­ver­sity of mu­sic that worked,” he said. “That’s al­ways been true with mu­sic and fash­ion. Mu­sic has al­ways in­flu­enced fash­ion and vice versa ... So for our in­dus­try to har­ness that was just a nat­u­ral evo­lu­tion.”

The fes­ti­val has even in­spired its own name­sake cloth­ing line: H&M in­tro­duced its sunny H&M Loves Coachella col­lec­tion world­wide last month. The Swedish re­tailer, a Coachella spon­sor for the past six years, will host an in­ter­ac­tive in­stal­la­tion on the fes­ti­val grounds this year that in­cludes a “360-de­gree Selfie Sta­tion” and a tem­po­rary store sell­ing ex­clu­sive, fes­ti­val­only prod­ucts.

“We al­ways thought that Coachella is as much about fash­ion as it is about mu­sic,” said H&M spokes­woman Marybeth Sch­mitt. The col­lec­tion is avail­able at 3,000 H&M stores around the world, she said.

Gen­eral ad­mis­sion tick­ets to the fes­ti­val cost US$375 and VIP passes sold for US$899. All are sold out.

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