Heaving crowds, blistering heat and a sea of boho babes—music festivals are the new runway shows. CAITLIN AGNEW dives into the muddy trenches and uncovers this season’s coolest new must-haves.
Channel your inner Kate Moss with one of the many new festival inspired collections, plus tips on what, and what not, to pack.
CAN’T DECIDE IF YOUR FLORAL CROWN AND
beaded moccasins match your crocheted caftan? Blame Kate Moss. In 2005, the supermodel brought festival fashion into the spotlight when she was photographed in hot pants, Hunter wellies and devil-may-care hair at England’s Glastonbury Festival. Sexy, carefree and covered in mud, she embodied a new music-festival lifestyle, one in which what you’re wearing is just as important as who’s performing on stage (in this case, Moss’s then-boyfriend and Babyshambles frontman, Pete Doherty, who had less staying power than a Glow Stick).
“Even the artists themselves care so much about how they look and dress for festivals. It’s only appropriate that music listeners do their part,” says Aimee Song, the Los Angeles-based interior designer behind the fashion blog Song of Style, who shares her So Cal #OOTDs (outfit of the day) with 2 million Instagram followers. A regular at Coachella—the annual music fest in Indio, Calif., where fashion darlings Azealia Banks, Florence Welch and FKA Twigs performed this past April—Song knows the festival circuit, and its looks, well. “The typical trend would be crochet and lace,” she says of the ensembles seen in the crowds at festivals like Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Osheaga and Field Trip. “But this year, I think we’ll see more patterns, such as tropical and Aztec prints.” For Coachella, Song wore a white lace Zimmermann romper, completing her free-spirited look with Dior sunglasses and Isabel Marant gladiator sandals.
Danielle Bernstein of the style blog We Wore What sees a ’70s revival happening at festivals this season, sharing her own throwback looks with her nearly 1 million followers on Instagram. The New Yorker and former guest judge on Project Runway All Stars predicts the return to the festival fields of “everything fringe and suede,” the likes of which were seen on spring runways, such as Alberta Ferretti and Anna Sui. Among Bernstein’s favourite pieces inspired by this era are her printed jumpsuit from Reformation, flared J Brand jeans and aviator sunglasses.
In the decade since Moss made rain boots cool again at Glastonbury, festival fashion has grown into its own market category. During this year’s Coachella, Pandora jewellery sponsored a series
of runway shows that featured festival collections by Nanette Lepore, Plenty by Tracy Reese and more at the Parker Palm Springs hotel. Looking chic in the crowd à la Kate Bosworth and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (two of Song’s favourite short-shorts-clad festival It girls) has never been easier, since many fashion brands now cater to all of your modern Woodstock needs. Swedish fast-fashion mega retailer H&M launched its capsule collection H&M Loves Coachella this past March and had a pop-up shop right on the festival grounds. And this spring, Philadelphia-based fashion label Free People debuted its online Festival Shop, which includes everything from tents to tambourines to temporary tattoos. “We were inspired by a harder-edge look with a rebellious spirit,” says Kristal Hill, fashion director at Free People, who looked to music icons like Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin for inspiration, favouring a hard-livin’ aesthetic over hippie-dippie vibes. “It really does evoke the feeling of the ’70s but in a completely modern way,” she says, referring to the collection’s fringed boot sandals and embellished trophy jackets.
Channelling your inner Dead Head is all well and groovy, but it may not be everyone’s cup of peyote. If your style skews more conservative than counterculture, start by experimenting with one or two festival-ready pieces so you don’t feel like you’re playing dress-up in Stevie Nicks’s closet. A certain level of Girl Guide preparedness also plays a big role in deciding what to wear to a festival, what with unpredictable weather and action-packed days and nights. “Plan your look ahead of time so that when the day comes you can just enjoy the show,” says Hill.
For Bernstein, festival dressing is all about stylish and practical must-haves. “A backpack is essential, also a longer cardigan or jacket for when it gets cold at night,” she says. A fan of over-packing, Song advises bringing plenty of layering pieces, a big hat to protect you from the sun, sandals, boots and a colourful selection of pieces made of breathable fabrics like lace and crochet to keep cool during hot afternoons. Her do-not-pack list includes bulky handbags that inhibit dance moves and prized possessions, which become a liability when things get wild. “My sister and I were listening to David Guetta one year when her sunglasses fell on the floor,” says Song. “I was jumping up and down and stepped on them.”
But don’t leave all of your signature accessories at home with your selfie sticks, which were banned this year by the organizers of both Coachella and Lollapalooza. Making bold sartorial choices that stay true to your sense of style will keep you from getting lost in the crowd. “Incorporating your own style makes a bigger statement than wearing what everyone else is wearing,” says Song. Just leave your whites at home—even Kate Moss’s signature Glastonbury look got splattered with mud. But getting dirty is part of the fun.
KATE MOSS AT GLASTONBURY FESTIVAL, 2005; BLOGGER AIMEE SONG AT COACHELLA, 2015; FRINGE BAG BY FREE PEOPLE
FROM LEFT: ACTRESS ZOË KRAVITZ, MODEL GIGI HADID AND BLOGGER DANIELLE BERNSTEIN AT COACHELLA, 2015