Credit: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images
I am coming to you from a style war zone where the victims are many. In the true spirit of investigative journalism I have embedded myself in the crowd at Byron Bay, where the music festival Splendour In The Grass has transformed once sensible teenagers and twenty-somethings into fashion victims. They might know what they’re dancing to but they certainly don’t know what they’re dressing for.
“Festival dressing is one of those strange concepts like equal pay, monogamy and Pokemon Go that we don’t fully understand yet, but the amount of face stickers, sequins, flower headbands and frayed denim shorts on display suggests that society is sashaying down the wrong aesthetic path.”
Credit: Justin Ma via Splendour in the Grass on Instagram
So far these soldiers of misfortune can be divided into three groups. The most popular, as rampant as glandular fever after the last encore on Saturday night, is the neo-hippie revivalist who uses a Pinterest selection of photographs from Woodstock for dressing inspiration. Fringed handbags and jackets, bandana headbands, John Lennon glasses and the whiff of patchouli are the peace-loving, Prada-phobic festival-goer’s calling cards but it’s a tragic time warp.
You’re listening to Flume, The Avalanches and The Strokes, not Jimi Hendrix, Crosby Stills Nash & Young and Joan Baez, so why dress like it’s 1969? The music has changed, the drugs have changed (so I hear, I’m a Champagne man personally) and the ticket price has certainly changed so perhaps it’s time to ditch the poncho and pick-up a cape or trade your unpleasant peasant blouse for a tailored midriff top. Think Taylor Swift instead of Joni Mitchell and you’re on the right track, visually at least.
Credit: Savannah van der Niet via Splendour in the Grass on Instagram
The second assault group has adopted the unsightly uniform of denim shorts, loose cream tops with a touch of broderie anglaise if you’re lucky and wide-brimmed felt-hats. It’s in this force’s favour that they don’t look like they’re about to break into an interpretative dance performance of Hair: The Musical, but it is another fashion throwback. Surely we’ve moved on from Kate Moss as the only style icon for an outdoor event? Do you really want to be imitating the supermodel whose most recent claim to fame is a cameo in Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie, which your Nana and uncle with the excellent loafer collection already has tickets to? Look to runway stompers Karlie Kloss, who exudes an athletic outdoors appeal, or Suki Waterhouse, who knows how to rock a sheer dress, for an instant update.
Credit: Jess Gleeson via Splendour in the Grass on Instagram
The third and final group has the distinction of not belonging to any decade, but perhaps that’s because every time period has rejected their ensembles of bosom-hugging black tops, sequinned jackets and anything below the waist that grips the buttocks tighter than a nineteen-year-old smelling of Lynx Africa and wearing Nana Judy, Industrie and boxer briefs for the third day straight. These style-starved strumpets complete their outfits with either platform shoes that could send a Spice Girl tumbling or gumboots (because they love Kate Moss too).
Considering it hasn’t rained, the gumboots will only come in handy if they end up stepping into a hot, steaming fashion mess. The ceasefire was promised at the end of the festival but we can count on further outbreaks during the summer season. It’s time for a taste treaty to be established but in the meantime, I’m a fashion editor, get me out of here.
Tile image: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Image