Held in the gorgeous Coachella Valley in southern California, Coachella Music & Arts Festival has become one of the largest, most well-known festivals and social events of the springtime. Every year I enviously admire those who attend this illustrious festival, with the hope that one year I’ll be able to experience it for myself. This year it finally happened, and it was everything I imagined it would be.
This wasn’t a split-second decision – this was a trip I began planning months in advance, even before the official music line up was released. Other than the world-famous headliners, the biggest draw of attending this festival for me is the fashion and the culture. It’s so heavily documented, since numerous industry influencers and celebrities are in attendance, and you never know who you’re going to brush shoulders with. And because of that, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to rock Katey Blaire originals – so I made the daunting decision to design and make all my outfits for the weekend. Keep reading for my personal review of the festival, including suggestions and tips, and then the best part, what I designed/wore!
BEYONCÉ. #BEYCHELLA. Not only was this one of the best live performances I’ll probably ever see, but I also witnessed history being made. Bey was beyond spectacular. Her fierce stage presence was an inspiration, and you could obviously tell how much time and effort went into the entire production. Her set featured a live band, fabulous dancers, a giant runway, and enough outfit changes to fill my closet. She brought out Jay-Z for a “couple goals” duet, pop-lock-and-dropped it with Solange, and there was a Destiny’s Child reunion, which fulfilled my teenage spirit. It will undoubtedly be a highlight of the year.
The Weeknd. Prior to the festival, I was most looking forward to seeing Abel (The Weeknd’s real name) – I had yet to see him perform live, and the timely release of his latest EP “My Dear Melancholy,” only weeks before his Coachella performance made me even more excited for his set. His performance was beautifully powerful, and while he became noticeably emotional on stage while belting “Privilege,” I admittedly shed a tear as well. It takes an enormous amount of talent to be able to perform on stage as a solo artist with minimal theatrics and distractions, but Abel killed it.
Eminem. Wonderfully entertaining and ever-so nostalgic, especially when he closed with “Lose Yourself.” While I’m not a huge fan of his newer music, I throughly enjoyed watching him perform his old classics (although a few were left off his set list, like “Without Me,” and anything from ENCORE). But he did bring out 50 Cent & Dr. Dre, which was a real treat.
Miguel. Another anticipated artist, Miguel’s live vocals were so smooth and rhythmic he put me in a calming trance during his entire performance.
Kygo / Odesza / Snakehips. Excellent sets by all three, full of epic beat drops and numerous special guests (including Jamie Foxx!)
HAIM. This pop/indie rock group was completely unknown to me before Coachella. I probably wouldn’t listen to their music on the reg, but their stage presence and enthusiasm was captivating and they crushed it playing live instruments.
Other notable sets: SZA, French Montana, Cardi B (only saw the end of this, sadly), Kelela, Chromeo, and MØ.
Acts I missed and am still bummed about? TroyBoi, Chloe x Halle, blackbear and Illenium. Oh well, next time. Can’t see ’em all.
There is SO much to see and do at Coachella. There are eight different music stages/tents, various interactive art installations, numerous sponsor tents (like Absolut, Heineken, American Express) and an overwhelming amount of overly-priced food and beverage options. I underestimated 1) how many people would be in attendance at Coachella (over 100K); 2) how much I would walk each day (at least 8-10 miles daily); and 3) how exhausted I would be after each day. The Coachella grounds are enormous – getting from one stage to another takes longer than you would think, so at times we were forced to miss certain performers if sets overlapped. The amount of dust I inhaled was ridiculous. Also depending on your carrier, cell service is atrocious – I attempted to meet up with friends multiple times with no luck due to delayed responses and spotty service. And trying to post to social media while at the festival is also nearly impossible, which was frustrating. How do celebs do it?! (Oh, right, they get VIP….)
My advice for anyone attending Coachella in the future (or any festival, for that matter):
- Wear comfortable shoes!
- Eye drops/nasal spray/dust masks are essential.
- Bring an empty water bottle to continuously refill and stay hydrated! (Although water at the festival is only $2)
- Take time between sets to sit indoors and cool off – being in the direct sun for hours will cause you to become super exhausted before the night time headliners perform (from experience).
- Determine a meeting spot for the end of the night if you get separated (and if you DO get separated from your friends, don’t panic – people at festivals are friendly and you’ll make new friends).
WHAT I WORE (& WHAT I MADE):
But first, WHAT I PACKED: Before I get into outfit details, here’s a list and picture of everything I packed and prepared for 3 days of festival life.
Glitter – Face wipes – Fanny pack – Necklaces – Rings – Bracelets – Earrings – Watch – Sunglasses – Bandanas – Travel mirror – Hair extensions – Hair brush & comb – Hair tie – Bobby pins – Shampoo + Conditioner – Hair Spray – Dry Shampoo – Deodorant – Airborne – Toothpaste + Toothbrush – Colored Contacts – Fake eyelashes – Eyelash Glue – Foundation – Lotion – Mascara – Chapstick – Lipstick – Make-Up Brushes – Highlighter – Phone Charger – 3 day’s worth of outfits – Socks – Floppy hat – Shoes – Festival wristband
Pile on the glitter, the chunky necklaces and the theatrical make-up – there is really no such thing as “too much” at Coachella. However, since the day I started paying attention to the fashion of the festival-goers years ago, I’ve noticed that the style has strayed from typical flower crowns, fringe and body glitter and become more sporty, grungy and casual. Along with traditional crochet tops, high-waisted frayed shorts and combat booties, I saw many attendees this year rocking barely-there sports bra-style crop tops, baggy pants and LOTS of sneakers. On the flip side, I also saw lots of “rave wear,” like neon pasties, hot pants (booty shorts), sheer tops and gypsy jewels. Really, anything goes.
My overall theme for the weekend was cosmic iridescence. Here’s a mood board I created for inspiration to begin my creative design journey.
The first day sets the tone for the weekend, and I wanted to go all out. For my first outfit, I made a coordinating iridescent snakeskin sweetheart bandeau and high-waisted bottoms to pair with a sheer open-front galactic skirt. I also threw on the rhinestone bralette I made for extra sparkle. On my feet I rocked a pair of black and iridescent Nike Air Max sneakers, which were both functional and fabulous. I also made a matching bandana for each day, to help with the copious amount of dust I would inhale. Accessories included numerous glitzy bracelets, assorted gold and opal rings, a fairly simple pair of square rhinestone earrings and fabulous rose gold sunglasses all from Aldo. I braided my hair into two bohemian-style french braids, which were subtly sprayed blue, on my lips I’m wearing bold matte magenta lipstick (worn all three days), and I topped off the entire look with gorgeous iridescent face jewels from The Gypsy Shrine (exact product here). I also wore the same iridescent fanny pack from Fydelity all three days, which was the perfect size to hold all my festival necessities (chapstick, money, ID, extra glitter, etc). It’s a tough call, but I think Day 1’s outfit was my favorite from the weekend.
My ensemble for Day 2 was slightly more understated, with an element of surprise when flashed with light. For this outfit I created another strapless bandeau and coordinating 4-strap high-waisted cheeky bottoms in this gorgeous reptile-printed reflective fabric, layered under a sheer pink mesh dress with iridescent sleeve and hem accents. On my feet I wore clear neon orange combat boots by Y.E.S. with checkered socks from Forever 21. I underestimated how tired I would be after the first day, so I was lazy with my hair and just added my long black and dusty purple extensions for a full, colorful low pony that I periodically hid under a floppy black hat (which got annoying at the festival, but was helpful for shielding the sun). Along with the hat, accessories included more glitzy bracelets and rings, a bejeweled silver statement necklace, floral earrings and more shimmery face jewels. This outfit during the night time was the real treat, and the matching reflective bandana made spectators go wild.
I went complete gypsy vibes for the last day, and actually waited until the last minute to make this outfit (2 days before leaving for the festival!) but it turned out fantastic. I started by creating a strappy body harness bra top out of black elastic and shimmery tie-dye fabric. I used the same fabric to create simple boy short bottoms to go under another long, sheer open-front maxi skirt. I wore white gladiator sandals from TopShop on my feet. Similar to the first two days assorted bracelets and rings adorned my wrists and hands, I chose big gold square-shaped hoop earrings and wore the same iridescent face jewels as Day 1. In my hair I wore long black, dusty purple and bright blue extensions for a fun pop of color to match back to my outfit.
My outfits were snapped and photographed numerous times throughout the weekend (celeb moment) but I made the mistake of not asking where or how the photos were going to be used. Mental note for next year to make sure and ask. Which outfit do you like the best? I love reading comments and feedback!
While exhausting and overstimulating, Coachella was an incredible experience and I plan on being in attendance every year going forward. I don’t know how they will be able to top next year’s line-up, but perhaps that will give me more time to explore the other attractions this festival has to offer. It still feels like a dream that went by too fast.
As always, thank you for reading! XOXO