Updated: May 2, 2022
It's a fact that Coachella fashion is a performance. This year, just as the years prior, the grassy hills of the valley become a runway for celebrities, influencers, and locals. Yet as online discourse poured in many were disappointed in the festival's fashion and questioning if it was ever in style to begin with. But let's reflect. While it seems as though the past decade of fashion has evolved and grown along with us, we may discover little has changed in the time span.
For context, music was still in favor over fashion during Coachella's 2007 reign. Looks were purely functional, with many in attendance opting for casual pieces that would still be comfortable in the desert heat. Staple pieces included tank tops, denim shorts, patterned babydoll dresses, maxi skirts, big sunglasses, and fabric headbands. With these few elements we see the dawn of hippie/boho attire, but more is to come in the following years.
Celebrities in attendance: Amy Winehouse, Kelly Osbourne, Lindsay Lohan, and Paris Hilton
Years later and boho fashion becoming fully established but still casual. It's this year that Vanessa Hudgens truly shines and is dubbed the queen of Coachella - a title that she still holds to this day. If one was looking to go all out in the 70s inspired fashion they would be spotted wearing fringe pieces, crocheted tops, sandals, floppy hats, and lace dresses. Accessories are kept to a minimum, we see crossbody bags stacked bracelets, and a mix of big sunglasses as well as Avaitors. This is also the point where we see components of Western wear such as American flag graphics, cutoff denim shorts, bandanas and cowboy boots on occasion.
Celebrities in attendance include: Katy Perry, Alexa Chung, Penn Badgley, and Solange Knowles
I feel as though nostalgic feelings truly begin in this era of Coachella. Kyle and Kylie Jenner were the official It girls, flower crowns were all the rage, and most importantly Tumblr was in style. Up until this point social media had stayed in the foreground; platforms such as MySpace and Facebook had yet to capture the festival weekend in all its glory. But these next few years changed everything.
At the time there was so much to be grateful for. As far back as I can remember I attended the festival in a virtual sense, scrolling to see the slew of outfits that were so far out of reach.The emergence of social media allowed for an event miles away to be right at one's fingertips. Platforms such as Instagram and Tumblr, favored for their vibrant imagery, truly skyrocketed Coachella fashion - it was performance art in the making. If your outfit was spotted on the site with likes and reblogs you were officially deemed cool. And in terms of documentation this couldn't be better. Looking back on these fashion moments evoke memories, even if you weren't in attendance. Yet the sentiment for the festival only goes so far when revisiting it's past cultural appropriation masked as trendy outfits and unique accessories.
If you were present during this era you know about the overwhelming cringe worthy outfits during this time of Coachella. It's a painful reminder of when fashion trends go too far and are regarded with little to no consideration for where they originated. Festival go-ers could be found wearing dashikis and kimonos. Kendall Jenner was spotted wearing an Indian nath, Alessandra Ambrosio posted herself wearing a Native American headdress, and Vanessa Hudgens was always spotted wearing a bindi. There can be an entire conversation on boho fashion and its origins in Romani culture. The list goes on an on; celebrities and others in attendance ran rampant in tribal prints paired with suede, coin belts, and flowy garments.
Time has passed and trends have progressed. Most remember this time and want to forget it, but it serves as a perfect opportunity to analyze and evaluate one's fashion choices no matter who is wearing it. Aside from this Coachella blemish styles surged within these years. While some had distinct styles of Western wear or 80s inspired fashion there's an overlap of certain pieces like fanny packs, flower crowns, crop tops, neon, bold jewelry, and round sunglasses.
Celebrities in attendance included: Nina Dobrev, Emma Watson, Cara Delevingne and of course Vanessa Hudgens
The boho style is a strong force that brings us closer to the present day. Less prints and more neurals come into play, but silhouettes stay the same. We get a lot of crop tops, peasant tops, and triangle bikinis as tops paired with high-low skirts, wide leg pants, and high waisted shorts. Many sport crocheted or sheer cover ups. Most notably these years mark the time for a Coachella staple: lots of metal statement pieces and layered jewelry. These accessories play up the monochromatic outfits and give a standout moment in the dozens of crowds.
Celebrities in attendance included: Camille Belle, Lea Michele, Emma Roberts, and Shay Mitchell
It's odd to say that things truly haven't changed within the past decade of Coachella fashion. 2018 gave us glitter, gems, and rainbows. 2019 was the beginning of the Y2K revival. While new trends have come to the surface this year a majority have stuck, maybe because festival fashion can only go so far or because some staples are staples for a reason - they work! Between celebrities and California natives we've seen plenty of denim, glitter, and matching sets this year. There's also a large element of individualism - wear what you want to wear for the sake of your own style and to be comfortable. Down the line it will be interesting to see what trends will continue on and what new things are to come. No matter the trend or the lineup of the year Coachella was and may always be a hotspot for the latest summer styles.
Illustration by Inci Sahin