Mirror, Mirror: Fashion Fun at Festivals

Coachella lit the fashion flame.
Coachella lit the fashion flame. (JOHN SCIULLI / Getty Images)

At summer concerts, the Woodstock-cute styles are just as important as the tunes.

Posted: June 27, 2013

Equipped with tassels for shimmying and smartphones for Instagramming, fashionistas are trolling summer's flea markets and outdoor concerts in flower-child ensembles under a trendy millennial moniker: festival fashion.

It makes me laugh that the generation-defining looks of Woodstock - frayed shorts, maxi dresses, cowboy hats - are, almmost 44 years later, red-carpet-worthy. Hippie has gone mainstream.

Music festivals like Bonnaroo in Tennessee and last weekend's Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Del., are so style-focused that they designate areas for the fashion-savvy to strike a pose.

"It's a whole new genre," explained Rakia Reynolds, owner of Philadelphia-based fashion public relations house Skai Blue Media. "The high-waisted denim shorts, the crochet crop tops - it's a homage to boho-chic with a retro twist."

Philadelphia is totally on the festival fashion trip this summer.

The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation partnered with Roots Picnic promoters this month to photograph concertgoers' looks. Rocking a bold print-on-print pants-and-top combo, singer Solange Knowles was lauded as the weekend's best-dressed.

Speaking of the Knowles sisters, I'm betting my favorite fashionistas already are planning their outfits to see Beyoncé in concert during the much-anticipated Labor Day weekend Budweiser Made in America Festival.

Organizers of the July Fourth Wawa Welcome America! festival hope you will get some fashion practice on the Parkway when people tweet or Instagram their live-and-let-live styles with the hashtag #July4thPhillyStyle (for more information, log on to www.welcomeamerica.com).

"It's all about being cute," said Reynolds. "The fashion is just as important as the music."

We can credit the recent wave of festival-focused fashion to Southern California's 14-year-old Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

The three-day show that draws more than 90,000 a day features a variety of Hollywood A-listers from Madonna to Kanye West.

Back in 1999, Coachella's first year, fashion was emerging from monochromatic minimalism to a label-heavy, blinged-out girly era. Easy-does-it boho was nowhere near the fashion zeitgeist. (Nokia phones were the rage. And taking pictures with them? Ha!)

Then about three years ago, as more people started chronicling the ins and outs of their lives through social media, Coachella earned fashion cred with the creatives.

Tumblr blogs and fashion magazines like Elle, Lucky, and Vogue began dedicating pages solely to festival fashion, a move that allowed advertisers to sponsor events connected to their target hip audience.

Also fueling the festival flame was a renewed interest in street style thanks to the power fashion couple Scott Schuman ("The Sartorialist") and girlfriend Garance Doré (stylist and fashion blogger).

Young women have really embraced do-it-yourself fashions, too, especially the repurposing of high-waisted jeans into cutoff shorts and snipping T-shirts into midriffs. Some they wear themselves. Others they sell on Etsy.

These days, designers Stacey Bendet from alice + olivia and Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen make boho-chic just as prevalent on the runways as it is at flea markets. Mall haunts including Madewell, Free People, and Forever 21 incorporated all things lacy and flowing in their summer 2013 collections.

"People are really into expressing their individuality," said Stephan Jacob, chief executive officer of Kembrel, a Center City boutique where everything on the shelves is seemingly festival-appropriate. "The art is on their backs."

Right on!


Contact fashion writer Elizabeth Wellington at 215-854-2704 or e-mail her at ewellington@phillynews.com. Follow her on Twitter @ewellingtonphl.

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