INDIO -- Self-described “model-sociallite” Silka (no last name given) drifted across the densely populated Coachella VIP section during the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ evening set attired in a crocheted shawl, a $400 Malia Mills bikini and a pair of Marc Jacobs sneaker wedges. She was sipping discreetly at a vodka cranberry in a plastic tumbler and turning heads with every step. The New York-based native of Hungary explained she had spent the better part of two days earlier this week sifting through her wardrobe to find precisely the right ensembles for three days’ worth of festival revelry beneath Indio’s baking sun.
“Of course I love the music but of course I want to look good,” Silka said as a male companion smiled in nodding agreement. “If I had to choose between the music and looking good, it’s not a choice. I would want to look good!”
Coachella is many things to many people -- North America’s preeminent showcase for modern music, one of the best-run large footprint summer festivals in the world, a viscerally overwhelming youth culture jamboree. But in recent years, the fest has achieved another notoriety: as a world class fashion parade where, to paraphrase the old Guns N' Roses lyric, the grass is green, the girls are pretty and laid back street ware choices can define the women who wear them at least as much as their musical predilections.
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Earlier this week, “Spring Breakers” star Vanessa Hudgens took to her Tumblr account to post pictures of the henna tattoos and elaborate nail artwork she’d had applied in anticipation of the festival.
“Too legit to quit. What do you think?” Hudgens rhetorically posted just beneath the photos.
Sure enough, Hollywood ingenues play a leading part in Coachella’s side stage vanity fair. “Hangover 2” costar Jamie Chung wore an ankle-length black viscose gown and serial Coachellan Kate Bosworth turned up in an embroidered, cream-colored short shorts ensemble that struck a just-casual-enough-yet-pulled-together aesthetic that dominates in Indio this time of year. Paris Hilton, meanwhile, looked chic even in a moment of apparent desperation, combing the VIP area with a bodyguard in tow to search for a missing phone, dressed in a multicolored Diane von Furstenberg mini-dress.
(Come sundown Friday, serial modelizer Stephen Dorff could be seen casting a wandering eye toward groups of fetchingly dressed young ladies in apparent appreciation of their sartorial choices.)
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As effortless as some of these sophisticated gypsies can appear, let’s face it: Daisy chain headbands don’t just make themselves. Vintage sunglasses of a certain provenance don’t just materialize from the ether. And while the low desert’s dry heat can help unkink tangly hair, it won’t make a woman look like she’s come straight from the blow-dry bar like so many Coachella cuties do.
All these gladiator sandals, flowing gypsy skirts, wide-brimmed straw hats, suede shoulder bags and booty shorts were selected with a seriousness of intent that supercedes run-of-the-mill fun in the sun and nights of ecstatic revelry.
In Coachella, as the thinking goes, fashion very much and very literally rocks.
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