Fashion in the Desert Festival – Footwear News

It’s been a full year since the term “revenge fashion” took hold. First, in the earlier months of 2021, it mostly referred to the post-vaccination, stepping-out wardrobe, a meticulously-planned look for a special night out, back when everyone still thought “hot vax summer” was definitely going to be a thing.

Then, it become a bona fide fashion trend, with both spring and fall ’22 runways literate with barely-there minis, strategically sexy cutouts and sequins galore (all somehow filtered through a Y2K style lens).

But with Coachella’s comeback after a two-year hiatus that is also ushering in the return of festival style, the look-at-me ethos of revenge fashion has finally found its rightful home. And it’s not pretty.

To be clear, there has always been a healthy dose of bad fashion at Coachella or any other music festival, for that matter. Most everyone looks back to the halcyon days of the original 1969 Woodstock festival with ethereal visions of hippies in delicate crochet and other artisanal items, but a closer look reveals that there was way too much fringe and tie-dye (not to mention a healthy coating of mud). And let’s not forget the literal dumpster fire that was Woodstock ’99.

In 2019, Coachella attendees and other festival goers seemed to be suffering from a generous amount of style FOMO, the result of social media one-upmanship that seemed to cause an outpouring of exponentially wacky looks (and not so much in the so-bad- it’s-good sort of way). While music artists and other celebrities relied on stylists and costume designers to create memorable performance looks, influencers and everyday attendees alike tried the their hand at looks that were just too advanced for amateurs. So-bad-it’s-good campy fashion quickly devolved into so bad-it’s-really-bad style memes to devour. (But since social media only works in extremes, bad-good and bad-bad tends to get the same level of reaction.)

For attendees, festivals provide a pause from reality, and with it the opportunity the same pause to any dress codes they might follow in the real world. Only this time, normal dress codes are still thawing out, and everyone is trying to figure out what to wear in real life, too.


Festival goers at weekend one of Coachella 2022.

CREDIT: AP Images


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Coachella weekend one.

CREDIT: AP Images

It’s hard to say if the fashion has gone from bad to worse at this year’s Coachella, which kicks off its second weekend today. The pandemic’s two-year suspension of normal life has created something of a contextual style vacuum, and while some are taking baby steps out of their sweatpants (or no steps at all), others are going from zero to 60 with the snap of a cliche Real Instagram. This time around mesh, cutouts, anything Y2K, and mini skirts with coordinating bra tops are the trends to try. Everyone at weekend one was in a white Western-style boot. Fringe will apparently never die.

This time, the looks on stage were almost equally as wonky. Doja Cat (always a purveyor of campy fashion on the edge of taste) wore a collection of tattered, crystal-embellished rags. Karol G was strapped into a mishmash of denim belts. Olivia O’Brien’s trompe l’oeil leotard was made to look like a pair of acid wash jeans with matching acid wash denim jacket. Orville Peck wore his fringed leather face mask, a signature accessory for the artist that took on a kind of Rorschach symbolism in this new era. Mariah the Scientist’s feather-accented nude bodysuit looked like it would fit in with a crowd of influencers.


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Mariah the Scientist performing at weekend one of Coachella.

CREDIT: AP Images


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Karol G on stage.

CREDIT: AP Images

Coachella’s bad fashion also took on a new meaning at the Revolve Festival, whose logistical mishaps earned it the label of “Fyre Festival 2.0.” The thigh-baring wrap skirts, go-go boots and ubiquitous scarf tops influencers were sporting as they fought one another to get on shuttles to the event felt appropriate for the moment — sartorial symbols, if you will, of the grifter age we are living through. If Anna Delvey were attending Coachella, she’d probably be in a wide-weave crocheted dress, cutout monokini underneath and big sunglasses on top.

This year’s bad fashion — and perhaps even that of the years leading up — also points to the proverbial vibe shift that trend forecasters have been pointing to lately. A closer look at photos of festival goers may prove the case. Zoom in on their faces. Beaming with joy, maybe even a little outright pride of their outfit choices, they seem to say, “Bad fashion? I’m in.”


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Weekend one festival goers at Coachella.

CREDIT: AP Images

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