On Friday, tens of thousands of music fans will flock to Indio, California for the first weekend of Coachella, bringing with them a surplus of flower crowns, cut-off denim shorts, fringed vests and, if we're really unlucky, feathered headdresses. It's no secret that festival fashion has become extremely formulaic over the past few years, but that hasn't stopped clothing and accessories brands from trying to capitalize on the aesthetic, releasing Coachella-themed lookbooks every spring. And despite their attempts to differentiate through set design, visual effects, eye-catching props and borderline crazy storyboard concepts, a lot of those lookbooks end up looking the same.
While cliché, some images stand out from the rest. In the spirit of festival season, we handpicked the most memorable, ambitious and downright absurd photos from this year's crop of Coachella lookbooks. Enjoy!
Most Topical Artist Tribute T-Shirt: Free People
One of the biggest gripes among OG Coachella fans is that the festival is no longer about the music — rather, kids these days use the event as an excuse to party for three days and wear thematic outfits. However, no one can accuse you of such things if you arrive in the desert wearing a piece that pays tribute to the legendary David Bowie, unequivocal musical genius, who passed away in January, and Free People was well aware of that when it styled its annual lookbook.
Buzziest "Cool Kid" Casting: H&M
H&M is always one of Coachella's most prominent fashion sponsors, and this year, the retailer called upon some of the modeling world's hippest faces — new IMG recruit Hailey Baldwin, Kanye West protégé Luka Sabbat and former Saint Laurent exclusive Julia Cumming — to star in its psychedelic festival lookbook. Chances are these youngsters will appear in many a street style photo from the weekend, and that they'll be at least partially clad in H&M.
Most Subtle Use of Watermelon: Planet Blue
We've already established that watermelon is one of the primary food groups for ladies at Coachella each year, since the cute, pink fruit is both healthy and photogenic. Instead of having its models pose with the typical watermelon wedges, Planet Blue turned the sweet treat into a smoothie/daiquiri-type situation, subtly incorporating the trendy snack — and adding a hint of color to the photos.
Least Subtle Use of Watermelon: Wildfox
On the flip side, Wildfox took two watermelon wedges and made them the very center(s) of attention on this cheeky crop top.
Worst Alternative to a Branded Pool Party: Child of Wild
Did your invitation to the Levi's Palm Springs poolside bash get lost in the mail? If so, don't dwell on the disappointment (there are dozens of other parties that are way easier to crash), and don't do what the ladies at Child of Wild did: drag a tub out into the desert for a photo opp and a dip. While it might make for a good Instagram, it's probably unsafe and definitely absurd.
Most Directly Inspired by Kendall and Kylie Jenner: PacSun
The Jenner sisters are PacSun's most well-known collaborators, so it's no surprise that the retailer channeled their style — chokers, lace-up body suits, statement sunglasses — for its festival lookbook. We would not be surprised if Kendall showed up to Coachella wearing the exact ensemble that the model on the far left is posing in, including the topknot.
Least Practical Form of Desert Transportation: Planet Blue
While skateboarding is super-trendy right now — and you'll probably see one million "Thrasher" T-shirts in next week's Coachella street style galleries — attempting to skateboard your way around the desert is a disaster waiting to happen. Basically any other form of transportation would be more suitable, but we'd suggest buddying up with folks who have access to a golf cart.
Most Original Prop: Nasty Gal
Coachella lookbooks are usually littered with props like inflatable pool floats, plastic lawn flamingos, bohemian pillows or rugs, hammocks and American flags. This year, Nasty Gal got a little more creative, and sat a model on top of a life-size fake horse (that she could theoretically ride into the famous desert sunset).
Most Impractical Eyewear: Free People
Unless you plan on using these to enhance your experience with lasers in the rave tent, leave the fragmented specs at home. It's already impossible enough to find your friends in the sea of shirtless bros and girls wearing the exact same outfit.