On the Coachella fashion frontlines, Cahuenga met crunchy, frat boys boogied beside rent boys, the Age of Aquarius met the Apocalypse and the cult of the frock reached its apotheosis. But when it’s 96 degrees in the shade, practicality is sexy. In the immortal words of Ana Matronic from the Scissor Sisters, “SPF 50, motherfuckers! What were you thinking?” Sunburns are not hot and the first-aid tent is no place to show off your new ensemble.
The fashion rags have declared this the Year of the Dress, and clearly the ladies of Coachella have been paying attention. Sonja, who was rocking a Day-Glo ’60s micro-mini with Chuck Taylors, told me that I had to have a cute sundress. I didn’t know cute came in all shapes, sizes and colors — glitter halters to tie-dye from Thailand. No dress is too loud or too low-cut, too short or too long. A parade of evening-length gowns amped up the hippie vibe, and de rigueur ’80s shades added a little Dynasty decadence to the mix.
Onstage, the looks ranged from the dressed-down, very Now skinny dark jeans and tees (worn to perfection by the curly-haired singer of Dungen) to getting fully costumed as the characters of The Wizard of Oz, as the members of Gnarls Barkley chose to do (Danger Mouse was the Wicked Witch). The fierce femmes of Sleater-Kinney made me consider cutting my hair to a boyish, sexy chin length, and hip-hop messiah Matisyahu just might start a trend with the Hasidic Jew look: black pants, long-sleeved white shirt, black cap and full beard. Madonna flexed her muscles, stripping down from pants to a leotard, and Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs is simply in a style league by herself. She’s a vamp and a clown, a bird of paradise who stayed up all night. O accessorized her red-and-purple mini dress with jester tights that were half-black, half-torn fishnet, and a single black-and-silver sequined fingerless glove.
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The Best Dressed Band Award goes to NYC glamorpusses the Scissor Sisters, no contest. While Tool and their oversize-black-T-shirt minions worked through their childhood rage on the main stage, Jake Shears and his de-gorgeous partner Ana Matronic pranced and vogued in gold lamé like some disco-era Apollo and Athena spreading the glittery gospel of love and redemption on the dance floor. I shudder to think what the desert dust could do to their outfits, but as the Sisters themselves advise, “If you’re gonna be gorgeous you’ve got to have just a touch of filthy.”