the Insiders


April 21, 2010 6:38 PM

Eye, Fashion

Heat Chic: Coachella Style

INDIO, Calif. -- The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival might as well be the Coachella Valley Music, Arts and Fashion Festival, judging by the presence of top brands there and the eyecatching street styles that festivalgoers patched together.While G...

INDIO, Calif. -- The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival might as well be the Coachella Valley Music, Arts and Fashion Festival, judging by the presence of top brands there and the eyecatching street styles that festivalgoers patched together.

While G by Guess hired a plane to pull a banner above the sold-out festival, which ended here Sunday, Adidas and Jeremy Scott hosted a toga party at the Palm Springs Art Museum. Levi's, Ray-Ban, Converse and Friend or Foe sponsored a lounge at the Ace Hotel & Swim Club, where celebrity guests such as Thom Yorke and Flea could customize Ts and jeans. H&M made its Coachella debut with an air-conditioned tent, where visitors could sip free water, win gift cards, charge their cell phones and freshen up with an array of Kiehl's beauty products. Promoting its Fashion Against AIDS collection, launching May 20, H&M sensed the wooden necklaces, ikat-printed maxidresses and jackets bedecked with beads and fringe would be a perfect fit for the Coachella crowd.

Certainly, the Native American tribal motif was prevalent in the Indian headdresses and body paint worn by many attendees. Others showcased their ingenuity, whether it be peacock feathers fluttering on a bikini top, a tutu that barely covered a tush, a Donnie Darko-derived rabbit mask or a toga accessorized with Prada sunglasses (perfect for that Adidas party).

"Look at that guy over there!" exclaimed Seth Avett, a member of the Concord, N.C.-based Avett Brothers, pointing to a La Roux fan who gilded his entire body in tribute to the gold makeup worn by the British pop band's singer, Elly Jackson. In contrast, the Avett Brothers dressed down in short-sleeve shirts and jeans for their hopping performance.

"We decided not to go with gold glitter paint," Avett said wryly. "We decided to be comfortable."
Other performers tried to stay true to their personalities in the desert heat. Jay-Z wore all black and shades for his midnight performance on Friday, while his wife, Beyoncé, was bootylicious in a shoulder-baring white T-shirt and denim cutoffs in her surprise duet with him at the end of his set. She & Him's Zooey Deschanel looked quite precious strumming a ukulele in a baby blue sleeveless tea dress. Julian Casablancas threw on a black leather jacket over his tight red pants.

Casablancas made a brave move in the eyes of Band of Skulls bassist Emma Richardson, who had attempted the leather look last year at Lollapalooza. "I wore a leather jacket on stage and I nearly passed out," she said. For Coachella, she opted instead to wear a black T-shirt and skinny jeans. "I learned my lesson," she said.

Little Dragon's Håkan Wirenstrand, Fredrik Wallin and Erik Bodin were stoic chic in G-Star Raw, while singer Yukimi Nagano lived up to buzz as the next Björk. Collaborating with Swedish designer Annlouise Landelius, Nagano appeared on stage for their Friday night gig in a sequined black hood, slipped over a maxidress with neon panels that glowed under the black light.

 "It's a good way to start the show with the effects," Nagano said.

The Gorillaz went for a nautical theme enhanced by the admiral jacket worn by rapper Snoop Dogg in his opening cameo with the band. Muse frontman Matt Bellamy shielded his eyes with blue-lensed sunglasses. A bespectacled Mayer Hawthorne was Motown dapper in a light-colored suit and dark tie, crooning in front of his back-up band, the County, all donning white shirts with black waistcoats and ties.

"My motto is flashy but classy," Hawthorne said.

Black and white was the preferred color combo for Charlotte Gainsbourg, La Roux's Elly Jackson and The xx, as well. The Specials added an individual touch to their porkpie hats, sharp suits and snappy polos with their signature black and white checks. Beach House's Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally combined their love for vintage with a black-and-white color scheme; Legrand wore black flared leather shorts and tan suede oxfords by Kurt Geiger, and Scally paired a safari-style denim buttonup shirt over white pants.

"My favorite thing about Coachella is you can change your outfit a bunch of times," Legrand said.

Indeed, Coachella fashion was summed up best on Sunday night by Pavement's Stephen Malkmus, who sang: "So much style and it's wasted."
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