Scroll down for updates to this post.
Welcome to our column, "Hey, Quick Question," where we investigate seemingly random happenings in the fashion industry. Enjoy!
On Sunday evening, our own Alyssa Vingan Klein posed the question on Twitter: "What are all of the Instababes doing in the Bahamas?" Seriously, what was going on? Our feeds were flooded with images of a tropical vacation to a seemingly private island starring Alessandra Ambrosio, Bella Hadid, Hailey Baldwin, Emily Ratajkowski, Elsa Hosk, Paulina Vega, Lais Ribeiro, Rose Bertram, Gizele Oliveira and Hannah Ferguson. (Many of the models also arrived by private plane, as per Instagram.) At first, we thought this beach #content was just another Airbnb push (see: Kendall and Kylie Jenner's birthday getaways), perhaps a "treat yourself" moment post-Victoria's Secret Fashion Show or even some sort of surprise Vogue shoot — because we all know how much Vogue loves those Instamodels.
But no, dear readers, it was none of that. It is a marketing scheme. The ladies listed above are promoting a brand new music festival called Fyre Festival, which will take place over two separate weekends (a la Coachella) next spring. All of those Instagram posts of jet skis, bathing suits and sand-dusted rear ends are just visual marketing tactics to trigger your inner wanderlust and build up a giant case of FOMO. Wake up, sheeple!
After learning more, Fyre Festival sounds pretty ridic — and we mean that in the nicest way possible. The "immersive music festival" takes place on Fyre Cay in the Exumas, a string of islands in the Bahamas. A private plane will fly ticket holders from Miami to this private island where they'll spend the next 48 hours enjoying music (the headliners and lineup have yet to be announced, but perhaps fellow model Doutzen Kroes will sign up her DJ husband Sunnery James), art, food, snorkeling near a plane wreck off Norman's Cay, yachts, jet skis, yoga, seabobbing (which I had to Google), and those swimming pigs from "The Bachelor." It is unconfirmed whether these models will actually be in attendance, however, though we are on an internal quest to find out.
As for prices, this festival does not come cheap. Packages start at $1,500, which covers the flight from Miami to Fyre Cay, ticketed admission, meals and hospitality. Accommodations include "The Retreat" with two twin beds (and you must be the same sex, notes Fyre Festival), "The Duo" with two tickets, two twin beds and "elevated amenities," "The Nest" with two tickets and a queen bed and "The Lodge," which is $8,999 total for eight tickets and four king beds. If none of that is appealing to you, there are upgrades available that apply to food and VIP access to areas and events throughout the festival.
But wait, there's more! Fyre Cay also holds more than $1 million worth of treasure, which we'd like to think was hidden by the Instamodels themselves, Easter egg-style. Like, Hadid probably buried a pair Made Gold jeans and a gift card to Rubirosa underneath a palm tree or something. So if you find yourself bored in between musical acts — which also poses the question, will there be wi-fi? — explore the island and dig for gold, jewels or maybe a hidden immunity idol. "Join us. It's Lit," says an actual sentence on Fyre Festival's website. (We imagine that was Baldwin's contribution.)
Leave the chokers, flower crowns and culturally appropriating headdresses at home and pack your favorite Solid & Striped swimwear — we're going to the Bahamas! JK, we're not going to the Bahamas. We have rent to pay.
UPDATE, Fri. April 28, 9:00 a.m.: On Thursday night, Twitter exploded with reports that Fyre Festival conditions were so poor that all flights carrying attendees from Miami to the Bahamas were cancelled, as the "private island" on Great Exuma was at "capacity." In addition to inclement weather, ticket holders —some of whom spent upwards of $4000 to attend the festival whose lineup initially included Migos, Pusha T, Disclosure, and Major Lazer — arrived to find grounds that were completely unfinished, without enough tents, food, alcohol, water and other basic needs to sustain a two weekend-long event. In addition, headliner Blink 182 cancelled their performance due to the promoters' lack of organization.
According to social media, the situation in the Bahamas at the Fyre Festival grounds is still chaos, with many people stranded and desperately trying to get off the island. Even the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism issued a statement regarding the deplorable situation, which you can read in full below. Yikes. Well, at least there is a lesson in all of this: Never buy tickets to an unestablished festival that clearly spent its entire budget on Instagirls to market it.
UPDATE, Fri. April 28, 10:08 a.m.: According to Fyre Festival's official Twitter account, the event has been "fully postponed." (Or, you know, cancelled.) No word yet on when and how organizers plan to refund guests, and the Instagirls who were contracted to promote the event have remained completely silent thus far.
The festival team also released a statement on Friday afternoon addressing the situation and how they plan to rectify it. Read it in full below.
UPDATE, Fri. April 28, 2:42 p.m.: Fyre Festival co-founder Ja Rule has (finally) released a statement regarding the chaotic event in the Bahamas, insisting that it was "NOT A SCAM" and that he's "heartbroken" to hear how the situation played out. The rapper was scheduled to perform on Friday night of both weekends of the festival.
UPDATE, Fri. April 28, 4:10 p.m.: Apparently, major influencers and models were called ahead of time by the festival's organizers and told not to attend, even before any official word was out that things weren't going well. "They called all the A-list names and the modeling agencies and told them not to come," an anonymous source told Page Six. "They were just like, 'Oh, come next weekend when all the kinks have been worked out.' This was before the chaos even started." Sounds like the organizers knew things weren't going to end well — and they wanted to make sure the most well-followed people involved wouldn't be there to Instagram or Tweet about it when things fell apart.
UPDATE, Sat. April 29, 3:27 p.m.: Amanda Riley, one of the many influencer/models the Fyre Festival tapped in order to promote the event (in exchange for free attendance and travel), gave an account of her experience to The Hollywood Reporter. She describes the entire situation as "a big mess" but also expresses that she has reached a state of acceptance about the experience. "I'm staying out of it because I'm kind of complete with it," she says. "My friends and family are safe. And I didn't pay for anything. So I just don't want anything to do with that company anymore or deal with these people."
UPDATE, Sat. April 29, 3:59 p.m.: Bella Hadid addressed her involvement in promoting the event with a note to her followers on social media on Saturday afternoon. "Even though this was not my project what so ever, [sic] nor was I informed about the process of the festival in any shape or form, I do know that it has always been out of great intent and they truly wanted all of us to have the time of our lives," she wrote. "I feel so sorry and badly because this is something I couldn't stand by, although of course if I would have known about the outcome, you would have all known too."
UPDATE, Mon. May 1, 8:07 a.m.: According to a filing obtained by The Fashion Law, Fyre Festival has been slapped with a $5 million class action lawsuit. The suit — which asserts claims of "fraud, breach of contract, breach of covenant of good faith and negligent misrepresentation" — was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on Sunday on festival attendee Daniel Jung and claims organizers Ja Rule and Billy McFarland as defendants.
The basis of the suit rests on the "festival's lack of adequate food, water, shelter and medical care" that created "a dangerous and panicked situation among attendees"; it even compares the festival's atmosphere to "The Hunger Games" and "Lord of the Flies." TFL states that Jung spent $2,000 on his Fyre Festival ticket and airfare.
TFL also notes that the suit's class action certification would "enable other festival-goers to join in the suit and share in the settlement amount," and that "the class of plaintiffs consists of 'more than a one hundred and fifty (150) members.'"