Coachella legend has it that there once was a time when you could party in the desert for three days straight without the threat of ending up in the background of Kylie Jenner’s Snapchat story. Since its start in 1999, the Californian music festival’s popularity has skyrocketed, as has its fashion influence.
Blame smartphones and social media for pushing Woodstocky wardrobes to over-the-top #OOTDs. Now, at fests around the world, the style scene practically upstages the headliners, with free spirits swaying about in obsessively plotted outfits.
There’s folksy, and then there’s offensive. Denim cut-offs, fringed crop tops, boho braids, Flash Tattoos—sure. But somewhere along the way, the ubiquitous flower crown gave way to other cranial adornments, with attendees sporting bindis (Selena Gomez, Kendall Jenner, Sarah Hyland and Vanessa Hudgens) and feathered headdresses (Poppy Delevingne and Vanessa Hudgens, again).
Appropriation shamers abound online, waking society up to how seriously uncool it is to perpetuate stereotypes and disrespect marginalized cultures through fashion. You can’t just glitter up, toss on a headdress and waltz into Osheaga anymore.
Literally. The Montreal music festival banned the aboriginal war bonnets out of respect for First Nations people last year. Headdresses are also a no go at Bass Coast in Merritt, B.C., the Edmonton Folk Music Festival and WayHome in Oro-Medonte, Ont.
Us Canucks are mostly solo in our efforts, though. Aside from England’s Glastonbury, which no longer permits the sale of headdresses on its grounds, most of the world’s top multi-day music gatherings have yet to roll out official dress-code policies that prohibit such flippant costuming.
Thankfully, the latest festival beauty trend borrows from the age-old globe-spanning art of blanket making, rather than someone else’s belief system. Hair tapestries are popping up on Instagram largely due to hip-as-hell British salon Bleach London, which counts it-girls such as Florence Welch and Jessie J. among its clients. One-upping the typical braid stations common at music events, Bleach introduced colourful thread-woven locks at the U.K.’s Port Eliot Festival (though—face palm—they operate out of a teepee).
Hair tapestries involve bright embroidery floss, but they are not those rainbow wraps you came home from Cuba with in grade 8. They’re a wide, flat decoration created with the use of a loom, which holds a one-to two-inch section of hair as you zigzag thread over and under strands. (The style can be tricky to replicate, but we love MariaAntoinetteTV’s YouTube tutorial.) “When you’re trying to make these yourself, you might have to take one or two practice runs to not f-ck it up,” cautions Vittorio, the Montreal-born, L.A.-based stylist who, with help from his crafty partner, Felipe Nogueira, created the look for FLARE on the previous page. As Kesha’s personal hair and makeup artist, Vittorio is well versed in playful primping. (Disclaimer: he wasn’t involved when the singer infamously sported a headdress in 2010.)
The pro recommends working on a clip-in extension so you’re not blindly reaching around the side of your head as you work. The good news is that all the effort is worth the three-day frizz-resistant payoff. “Tapestries don’t really fall apart because they’re kind of like carpet,” Vittorio explains. “If you’re a sweaty dancing mess, you might find that it looks a little gnarly, but honestly, they’re quite sturdy.” And trendy. And, most important, inoffensive.