To those about to brave summer music festival season, we salute you. You’re about to enter the void of abnormally oppressive heat, witnessing filthy bodies flailing from side to side and a steady barrage of nudity, whether you like it or not. It’s all for the music, man—though for the sartorially inclined, it’s really all about the clothes.
Every year around this time, thousands of music lovers flock to locales across North America and Europe for weekend-long celebrations of peace, love and cut-offs. Think Woodstock 2.0, where the new brand of flower children wear hair wreaths purchased at Urban Outfitters, performers don Céline (ahem, Kanye), and the only cause is having your picture taken by a street-style blogger.
Music festivals such as Coachella (California), Bonnaroo (Tennessee) and Osheaga (Montreal) have become important trend-breeding grounds for designers and retailers; festivalgoer fashion items like crop tops, feathered headdresses, knit vests and flowy maxi dresses have become almost as relevant as what comes down the ready-to-wear runways. “It’s like another season in fashion—you’ve got fall /winter, spring /summer, and festival,” says Tiyana Grulovic, fashion editor at The Globe and Mail. “A music festival is street style gone wild. There’s a certain mood out there, this bohemian free-spirit vibe that allows people to let loose in a lot of ways, fashion being one of them.”
That vibe has resonated since the original rock gods put their stamp on festival style at Woodstock during the summer of ’69—Janis Joplin’s circular rose-tinted glasses, Jim Morrison’s lace-up leather pants and Jimi Hendrix’s headscarves. But its transference into our collective style consciousness can be chalked up to one now-iconic look: Kate Moss, Glastonbury, 2005. Wearing tiny cut-offs, a black buttoned vest and—the festival pièce de résistance—mud-covered Hunter wellington boots, she redefined the look of a supermodel as she traipsed across the show grounds with then-boyfriend (and Babyshambles frontman) Pete Doherty. That paparazzi shot of Moss inspired leagues of lookalikes, propelling the British heritage brand’s wellies to the forefront of cooldom. And the love fest continues. Two summers ago, H&M released a Fashion Against AIDS festival-centric capsule collection of fringed tops, bleach-dyed paper shorts and printed sleeping bags. This spring, Dsquared designers Dean and Dan Caten showed cheeky festival-ready wear (waist-tied plaid button downs, studded belts, aviators and cut-off rock tees) on a muddy runway, with models carrying bottles of beer. Elsewhere on spring’s runways, Isabel Marant’sbrand of easy elegance took the form of crafty thick-knit hoodies, breezy sheer cover-ups and pink patchwork jeans; Michael Kors showed hand-dyed multicoloured maxi dresses; and Burberry Prorsum mixed raffia and woven leather into its summerweight parkas.
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