Festival fashion has come a long way since Kate’s iconic Hunter wellies and hot pants at Glastonbury in 2005. Now there’s a new look for the festival field, says Annmarie O’Connor.
Once upon a time in Bethel, New York, 400,000 people gathered over four days on a local dairy farm to celebrate peace, love and music.
Billed as ‘An Aquarian Exposition’, the festival now known as Woodstock came to symbolise the 1960s’ counterculture movement; its hippie adherents setting the dress code for a new revolution.
Bell bottom jeans, dashikis, tie dye tops and Native American jewellery became a statement of intent — a way of asserting one’s tribal allegiances in the face of social unrest.
Ironically, what started as a sartorial two finger salute to the establishment has since been mainstreamed into the fabric of the global music event scene.
From Glastonbury to Stradbally, the muddy fields synonymous with bands has shifted to incorporate brands with high street and high end retailers curating style stories for the 2.0 festival goer.
Online retailer www.Boohoo.com sponsored the celebrity-soaked Desert Oasis party at this year’s Coachella with H&M and Forever 21 dedicating capsule collections to the popular Californian Valley output.
Even Wellie kings Hunter, a staple on Somerset’s Worthy Farm, have launched a digital festival hub including weather-specific field essentials from branded sliders to rubberised phone pouches.
Arguably, such commodification may fly in the face of iconoclastic Woodstock values but stylish self-expression (and flashing a peace sign) remains unerringly steadfast.
Even if the spirit of non-conformity has been diluted by a more clannish sensibility, it’s the visual spectacle of the spectators that adds to the performance value of the events.
So, grab your VIP pass as we unveil festival fashion’s biggest headline acts to date.
There was a day when wearing a bin liner-rain jacket and grandad’s woolly jumper qualified as suitable garb for dancing around in a metric tonne of mud.
Then something changed. In 2005, Kate Moss showed up to Glastonbury, sporting hotpants, a waistcoat, bedhead hair and Hunter wellies.
The bar was officially raised and, thus, a trend was born.
Wellies suddenly became a status symbol — and not just any old gum boots.
Once the preserve of World War One soldiers and countryphiles, Hunter rapidly became the preferred brand of the British festival scene with styles ranging from the rebellious yet practical vulcanised biker boots to the luxe Jimmy Choo, Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton collaborations — a favourite with supermodels and socialites.
Monogrammed pairs were even issued to select celebrities such as designer Stella McCartney, musician Mark Ronson and style star Alexa Chung.
Want to rock the look? Pair an ‘I’m with the band’ T-shirt and neck-tie bandana with denim shorts, aviator sunnies and a leather or surplus military jacket. Prescriptive, perhaps?
Classic? Oh, yeah.
The free-spirited romanticism of the Woodstock era translated from thrift shop to catwalk with the vision of designers such as Bill Gibb whose handknits and handicraft boasted Eastern, folkloric and pre-Raphaelite references.
Diaphanous printed fabrics, billowing sleeves and homespun embroidery — once the preserve of the humble flower child — have, over the years, become part and parcel of the well-heeled style set.
Luxury e-tailer Net-a-Porter.com’s spring/summer 17 edit celebrates the bougie bohemian thanks to the eclectic affluence of labels like Valentino, Chloé and Etro; not to mention Gucci whose creative director Alessandro Michele kitted out ethereal chanteuse Florence Welch for her 2016 ‘How Beautiful’ tour.
After all, every haute hippie knows that layered plisse-silk organza dresses and cashmere ponchos make the perfect trousseau for helicopter transfers to Kazakh-style yurts.
Attending the Veuve Clicquot masquerade ball at Body and Soul this year? Take this season’s style cues from paisley silk robes, embroidered caftans and tribal jewellery.
The searing heat at desert festivals like California’s Coachella has espoused a more youthful vibe with crochet vests, flares, sequined kimonos and fringe details figuring highly.
Sure, it may be 40 degrees in the shade but that doesn’t stop the fashion pack from packing on the glamour.
Rachel Zoe — L.A-based stylist-turned-designer and pioneer of Hollywood boho-chic; and Israeli actress-turned-designer ‘Dorit’ Dodo Bar Or both lead the charge with their eponymous lines offering off-the-shoulder embroidered playsuits, cotton-gauze tassel-clad gypsy dresses and smock tops that look equally at home hanging out at the main stage or Venice Beach.
Stalwart festival favourite Étoile Isabel Marant embodies a similar laidback brio with cotton-voile ra-ra skirts and mini dresses, broderie anglaise tops and suede ‘Dicker’ boots part of its cool girl style staples.
The label has retained its credible festival kudos, in part, due to acolytes like actress Chloë Sevigny, Kirsten Dunst and model mum Miranda Kerr – all of whom embody the label’s effortless spirit.
Keen on recreating some West Coast style? Asos.com and Miss Selfridge pull rank on sparkle with Zara stitching up the competition on embroidered tunics and gypsy tops.
Kitsch, colourful and pastiche, the EDM (electronic dance music) scene brings its own brand of bricolage to the stage.
This is one tribe that has no official leader.
Hip hop, surf, Goth, psychedelia and kandi culture all mix and match, making it the evanescent shapeshifter of trends.
A far cry from its 90s heyday — (think, phat pants, bucket hats, boilersuits, smiley face T-shirts, hydration packs and adult soothers), the nu-look leans more towards that of Ibiza club kids with floral crowns, tutus, bumster shorts and LED gloves part of its day glow glory.
While rave fashion may have become more risqué, the trend for bodies with sheer overlays or crop tops over T-shirts creates a different dynamic for the less daring dance devotees.
More dash than cash? PrettyLittleThing.com leads the charge in psychedelic garb and notice-me accessories (crystal-embellished goggles, anyone?) – perfect for radical rituals at Burning Man.goggles, anyone?) — perfect for radical rituals at Burning Man.
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