LOS ANGELES — In the run-up to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which starts Friday, we’ve been anticipating not just the music and art but also the independent sense of style that will be on display.
We talked to a couple of the standouts who will hit the stages in Indio over the next two weekends about what shaped their looks and what they might be wearing to the increasingly fashion-focused festival.
GRACE POTTER & THE NOCTURNALS
For the last few years, Grace Potter, the leggy singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist fronting Waitsfield, Vt.’s Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, has been working a Tina Turner-Marianne Faithfull vibe, favoring sparkly, fringed mini-dresses inspired by the 1960s and ’70s.
But Potter says that her look — and the band’s — evolves with each successive album. With a new album set for release June 12, Potter says she’s finally lifted the “denim jihad” that’s been in place since the band’s 2010 self-titled album was released. (But that doesn’t mean you’ll see the band awash in head-to-toe blue jeans anytime soon.)
Style icon: “My style icons growing up tended to be men, so it was Mick Jagger in the leotards, bell bottoms and suspenders and David Bowie — especially his outfits from the movie ‘Labyrinth.’ You can see influences of that in what I wear today. Some days I want to be Mick Jagger, some days I want to be Bianca Jagger, but either way there’s definitely a lot of ’70s influence running through what I like to wear.”
Fashion influences: “As a kid, I was obsessed with fashion, and I basically worked with whatever was in the shed — my parents had all their old, crazy, ’60s and ’70s hippie clothes in trash bags in a shed by our house. Every couple of months, I’d dig into that and go through every article of clothing and invent crazy outfits.”
Favorite brands: “Balenciaga is huge for me. I love Balmain, and Miu Miu has some fabulous shoes right now. Every once in a while, I like to incorporate something a little more refined, like a piece from Prada or Lanvin. Lanvin moves really beautifully onstage and I love the textures they’re using right now.
“I love Gucci, but a lot of times it doesn’t fit me properly, so I have to get it specifically tailored. And Issa of London has some really amazing dresses, so when it does come time for me to wear a (full, floor-length) gown, there are a few things I’m impressed with. Isabel Marant makes some nice, nonfussy dresses and little chiffon floaty shirts, and ALC is killing it right now. I love their silk pieces because they’re light enough for summer but they’re this luscious, buttery silk.”
Coachella wardrobe: “It’s important to put some thought into our ‘moments in the sun’ — our TV moments, our big, onstage Coachella moments — so you know exactly how everything’s going to look on camera. And right now my dream list for Coachella includes Stella McCartney, an (Alexander) McQueen piece and some Givenchy ... We’ll see which of those three is going to wind up onstage.
“The guys (bandmates Matt Burr, Benny Yurco and Scott Tournet) will probably be dressed in All Saints, (which is) bringing some custom pieces for me to try on. I’m a huge fan, and they’re like the gasoline that fuels our tour. If it weren’t for them, I’m not sure we’d ever be in clean clothes.
“At festivals, especially when I’m bopping around doing press and not onstage, I like to keep it light and simple and fuss-free, so I find the beach approach is a good way to go. Sometimes I’ll just wear a bathing suit and throw a bunch of stuff over it.”
Favorite stores: “I’m bicoastal at this point because of work, and I find amazing pieces in Vermont. I’ll go to some random store where there’s a lady knitting scarves and get a beautiful beret or a gorgeous super-thin long scarf. Then I’ll bring it out to L.A., and I’ll build around it by zinging over to someplace like Sunset Plaza. H. Lorenzo is a great store that’s got a lot of exciting, hard-to-find pieces, pieces that are pretty rare, pretty hard to find.
“I like to hang out at Barneys and in a pinch I’ll go to Robertson, but I’m more of a Beverly Center kind of girl. I love Traffic — they’re an amazing store; our drummer Matt has borrowed suits from them. For festival stuff, I find a lot of light pieces at Calypso and amazing basics at J. Crew. Corey Lynn Calter is a designer I love, and she’s got a lot of great festival stuff.”
The Oakland, Calif.,-based world fusion-electronic music troika Beats Antique mashes up genres including hip-hop, Afro-beat, Middle Eastern belly dance and jazz. The group consists of David Satori, Tommy Cappel and Zoe Jakes, the latter of whom accompanies the music with a unique blend of tribal fusion belly dance during each performance.
Style icons: “Everything I learned I learned from trannies,” Jakes said. “Because they’re brilliant and I love them and they have the best styling and makeup advice — the best makeup artists are always trannies — so pretty much all of my secrets come from them. I’m usually performing on a stage with an incredible amount of light so everything has to be really extreme and exaggerated, the heavy eyeliner and the really long false eyelashes.”
Fashion influences: “The people who have shaped me as an artist are other tribal fusion belly dancers Rachel Brice and Katarina Burda. I was also into the whole vaudeville scene, which has really affected my aesthetic.”
Favorite stores: “I use eBay a lot. Sometimes I’ll find something I really like at a fabric store and just buy it and hold onto it until I have a concept. The only other place I really shop is All Saints. They’ve got a great aesthetic, and I really love their clothes.”
Coachella wardrobe: “I’ve had it planned for weeks,” Jakes said. “The costumes are going to need to come off and go on very quickly because of all the costume changes — I usually change costumes six to eight times in a show — so I need to get them on and off within two or three minutes tops.
“For Coachella, we’ll be having guest dancer Auberon Shull joining us, and we’ve got some mermaid tails. I think there’s a flamenco skirt in there somewhere. There will be my heavily beaded antique costumes made from old, old, turn-of-the-century Egyptian fabrics, and I always wear a lot of old tribal silver jewelry. There will also be some antlers in there somewhere, as well as some feather fans and a few masks.”
Street look versus stage look: Jakes said she dresses differently out of the spotlight. “Performers often say a true performer is one that looks pretty plain in regular life,” she said. “And since I dress up for a living — I performed at least 150 times last year — it’s kind of taken the excitement out of it on a day-to-day basis. When I’m not performing, I don’t wear makeup, I wear leggings, a T-shirt and a pair of boots and that’s pretty much it. About as bare bones as it gets.”
On fan fashion: “It’s really sweet,” Jakes said. “We get a lot of people in the audience who dress up for our shows with a belly dance element, which is super cool.”
With her songs “212” and “Bambi” playing on catwalk soundtracks, the foul-mouthed Harlem rapper Azealia Banks has been running with fashion’s in-crowd for a while now, appearing front row at shows such as Mulberry’s in London (palling around with Pixie Geldof and Lana Del Rey) and West’s in Paris (where she played the after-party). She was also hired by Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld to perform at a private dinner.
Throw in an April photo spread in GQ, an upcoming music video directed by Mugler creative director and Lady Gaga collaborator Nicola Formichetti, and a debut album called “Broke With Expensive Taste” that is due out in September, and it’s easy to see how Banks’ personal style could well skyrocket straight into the forebrain of every style-savvy person on the planet.
Banks could hardly have asked for a better springboard than Coachella to acquaint the world with her bawdy bad-girl aesthetic of pigtails, denim cutoffs and striped tops that range from slouchy sweaters to form-fitting shirts. Expect her post-tween meets raunchy sexpot vibe — Mickey Mouse sweaters, Elmo sweat shirts and all — to gain traction as the year progresses.
FIRST AID KIT
The Swedish folk duo of sisters Klara and Johanna Soderberg, who hail from the Stockholm suburb of Enkede and perform as First Aid Kit, may be all but unknown to U.S. audiences, but they’re steeped in Americana.
The video for their song “Emmylou” — a tribute to their favorite country musicians including Emmylou Harris, Gram Parsons, June Carter and Johnny Cash — was shot in Joshua Tree National Park on Parson’s birthday. And the album it’s on, the January 2012 sophomore release from the duo titled “Lion’s Roar,” was recorded in Omaha, Neb.
It’s not just the duo’s sound that harks back to the folksy America of days gone by, the sisters dress the part, too, with a look that’s pure ladies of the canyons circa 1974, complete with floral print dresses, flowing tresses, lace shawls, fringe and chunky turquoise jewelry.
The cowboy boots, Native American blankets, leather beadwork vests and floppy sun hats don’t come off as forced or costume-like on the teenagers — who hadn’t even set foot in the U.S. until their first tour here in 2010. Instead, they feel like an homage. And, while the denim shirt dresses, leather jackets and prairie skirts might not be blazing any new trends at Coachella, it’s a safe bet to think the singing Swedish sisters will have a look that perfectly captures the spirit.