A “Fringe” Group Goes Mainstream For Festival Style

Grab your fanny pack or more likely your cross body designer bag. We are now beginning the journey which is music festival season. SXSW is in the rear view mirror, ditto for half of Coachella. There is a long and winding road with miles of festivals to follow throughout the summer and into the early fall. In case you were caught unaware, festival is a clothing season, or at the very least a retail category. All the young, trendy retailers now have a festival section on their website or in their physical store; that’s if it doesn’t encompass the entire store, as in the case of Free People.   I’m sure you’re familiar with the uniform:  the crocheted crop tops or bra tops, the eyelet lace white boho shorts or dresses, the Dylanlex or replica silver tribal jewelry, the denim cut-offs, the gladiator sandals or suede booties, the felt hat or flower crown, the loose flowing batik or colorful dresses.

Gigi Hadid at Coachella

One element that seems mercifully absent this season at Coachella is the previously omnipresent tie-dye but I’m told it is still going strong at other “hippie” festivals whereas you will see neon everything at an EDM (Electronic Dance Music) festival. Every year it seems more and more that we are taking our style cues from festival which could go a long way towards explaining why so many major designers went rogue with retro Woodstock for SS2015. Although, as I said, festival is a youthquake, perhaps “wasted” (yes, both meanings apply) on the young, I admit to a few #FOMO moments last weekend while watching AC/DC on stage at Coachella. I realize that I am so “past it” in terms of much of the fashion, however, keep me away from any suede or faux suede fringed article of clothing or be prepared to see me in it. I’m actually embarrassed to admit how many such pieces (jackets, vests, handbags, boots) I own. Of course, judging from the looks of things on the grassy fields of Coachella (drought? no drought here.) I’m far from alone in my obsession. Luckily for my fringed suede and suede-like section of the closet, I have turned my addiction for such items towards my festival going daughter’s wardrobe.

Fergie in a Alberta Ferretti vest

The faux suede has certainly improved in the past few years and I’ve decided that it makes much more sense, particularly if you’re festival-bound, to stick with these items. My best purchases for her include a pair of poly suede H&M drawstring shorts with pockets ($9.95) and a similar pretender-to-the-suede-throne lightweight fringed jacket by SW3 Bespoke (at Shopbop and Saks for around $250). Fergie who obviously is not concerned with budget or age rocked out at Coachella last weekend in an Alberta Ferretti dark brown suede fringed vest along with denim cut-offs.  Her selection, a cool $4,820, is currently sold out at Net-A-Porter. Both Gigi Hadid and BF Cody Simpson took turns rocking fringed suede items on succeeding days of the three-day festival.

Met Museum Mans shirt

For anyone who is an anti-cultural appropriation zealot (ha), you know, those opposed to the wearing of Native American headdresses at Coachella and other festivals, good news! It seems the masses have gotten the message as I haven’t viewed any photos of anyone going full-on Commanche. The current exhibit of “The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art would probably be a better place to see such articles including a warrior’s highly artistic fringed and beaded shirt circa 1810. I hate to think what that would cost if a top designer were to try to duplicate it today!

Alberta Ferretti SS2015

Of course not all music festivals enjoy weather as sunny, or abounding celebs (proximity to L.A., duh!), or as many off-site parties as the more mainstream Coachella. I’ve been informed by my offspring that no one cares about the music anymore at Coachella, rendering it one of the lamest festivals. An article in The New York Times Style section today (“Come for Coachella, but Party at #Nochella”) seems to support her view adding that many are only there to attend the branded and sponsored parties including “daytime chill-out sessions” ie. pool parties or “nighttime ragers,” and are mainly interested in seeing celebs and drinking alcohol.

Katy Perry at Coachella

I would imagine that if you’re not worried about dunking your hem in the on-site porta potties, your choice of apparel could lend itself to something more delicate, perhaps along the lines of the long sheer floral skirt worn by Katy Perry.

Lena Hall

I had the good fortune to see singer/actress Lena Hall perform at Cafe Carlyle on Tuesday night (see New York Times review) and noted that she was wearing a similar dress (black background/large scale floral) which somehow managed to showcase both her bohemian bent (she grew up in San Francisco with “hippie” parents she says) and her Broadway/rock/blues sensibilities. I had seen Hall in her Tony award winning performance as Yitzhak in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” as Neil Patrick Harris’ husband; she maintains that semblance of androgyny in her lounge act with her raspy voice and preference for singing songs made famous by male singers. During the course of her set, she consumed three large bottles of water with a “whiskey sandwich” (which she described as two whiskey shots with a whiskey in between), just in case you didn’t get the message that she’s one of the guys. After performing a ballad rendition of the Talking Heads “Psycho Killer” she mentioned that lead singer David Byrne would be attending her show the next night. I’m still wondering if that’s true or if she says that every night in hopes of boosting sales for the following evening’s show.

All of this just goes to prove that the warmer months bring out some fun looks in fashion and music. While I’m not about to attend a music festival anytime soon, I have recently added a few concerts to my schedule; many acts from what I consider back in the day are currently touring. I’ll be there with fringe flying.

Photo credits: Getty Images, Met Museum, Reuters/AFP, Racked

Laurel Marcus

OG journo major who thought Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style" was a fashion guide. Desktop comedienne -- the world of fashion gives me no shortage of material.

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