Fashion brands' efforts to get in front of the Coachella crowd isn't limited to the festival stage by any means, and each year, the number of parties and events appears to grow by leaps and bounds. Below are a few of the parties our Coachella-bound team came across — and one important one we didn't.
Dior checks in to Pioneertown
On April 12, the night before the festival's first weekend got underway, LVMH-owned French luxury label Christian Dior decamped to the high desert outside Palm Springs to celebrate the launch of Dior Parfums' Sauvage Eau de Parfum with a sit-down dinner at the Pioneertown Motel for an eclectic guest list that included actor Darren Criss (in an all-black Dior Homme ensemble with the words "standing in the crowd one night"); model-actress-brand ambassador Paris Jackson (also wearing Dior but just barely, in the form of a bandeau top and a diaphanous skirt with brightly colored embroidery); models Alessandra Ambrosio and Olivia Culpo; actress Britt Robertson; and JustJared.com founder and blogger Jared Eng.
Dior representatives said the rustic desert locale was chosen partly because of its proximity to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and the bigger reason was that nearby Joshua Tree was the backdrop for the original 2015 ad campaign that launched the Sauvage Eau du Toilette and featured Johnny Depp driving a Cadillac convertible around the desert. Depp wasn't present in the flesh, but his voice could be heard narrating a clip from a soon-to-be-released short film created for the fragrance launch that was looping for guests in one of the motel's rooms.
Depp was also there in spirit — kind of — thanks to a coyote-pelt-wearing medicine man camped out cross-legged in another of the hotel's rooms, spinning tales of the coyote trickster from southwestern mythology and crushing chile peppers, pink peppercorns and sage — some of the scent notes found in the new fragrance — in a molcajete with bottles of the fragrance scattered around him. Channeling his inner Depp, the shaman showed the guests who listened to his stories a howling good time.
Levi’s pulls off a pair — of parties
Returning to the Coachella Valley for a third festival season, Levi Strauss & Co. has found a way to double-down on brand presence with two high-profile events — on the same day. On the morning of April 14, the denim brand hosted a private celebrity-studded (or perhaps "-riveted") poolside brunch at the Colony Palms Hotel in Palm Springs where bloggers, influencers and other friends of the brand (Bella Hadid, Brooklyn Beckham, Tyson Chandler and Hailey Baldwin, among them) took in DJ sets by up-and-coming streetwear designer Heron Preston and Snoop Dogg (who turned up a day later to DJ an evening set during Revolve's festival weekend of events at the Merv Griffin Estate in La Quinta; more on that later). Levi's guests were able to get their denim cutoffs, trucker jackets and 501s tailored to fit and customized with monograms, screenprinting and airbrushing gratis.
To be sure, Levi's does get something valuable — beyond brand exposure — out of these events; its design teams pay attention to how people tweak and tailor their denim, both at the event itself and out in the wild of the festival grounds.
Levi's bookended the day as the headline sponsor of the invite-only dance-party-meets-county-fair known as the Neon Carnival. For its ninth year, the light- and color-drenched, tequila-fueled (Tequila Don Julio was another sponsor) Coachella after-party took up temporary residence at the HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, attracting the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Chance the Rapper, Daniel Kaluuya, Kourtney Kardashian and Blake Griffin.
Fenty X Puma hosts a poolside pop-up
Levi's hardly had a lock on the neon though. You couldn't throw a festival wristband at the VIP Fenty X Puma by Rihanna party without hitting a color that blazed as bright as the desert sun. Held at a private estate in Thermal, the color-drenched party had pink 55-gallon drums and piles of blue car tires lining a dusty track filled with zooming ATVs. Another pile of tires — yellow and white this time and topped with a neon pink Fenty X Puma logo — provided the perfect backdrop for RiRi's arrival. The neon-hued pieces from her motocross-meets-the-beach spring and summer 2018 collaborative collection with the German sports brand were modeled poolside by an abundance of drink servers.
For those arriving in less eye-popping shades, an on-site pop-up shop was stocked with the season's second drop, which doesn't officially hit retail until May 3.
Among the high-profile guests who showed up to clamber about an immense inflatable slide, roar around the dirt track or simply loll about in a poolside cabana in support of Rihanna were ASAP Rocky, G-Easy, Tyga and Iggy Azalea.
Revolve revs up the festival fun
Online retailer Revolve popped up in the desert for its third annual series of Coachella-area activities starting with Revolve's Palm Springs cocktail soiree April 12. Unfortunately we were still driving to the desert and missed the poolside banter at the V Hotel, where newly married model Emily Ratajkowski and LPA label founder Lara Pia Arrobio were joined by actresses Cara Santana and Jasmine Sanders and a host of other guests for cocktails. The following day Revolve, which has its social club space on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, doubled up its Coachella weekend entertaining with a House of Harlow 1960 X Urban Decay brunch with actress and designer Nicole Richie and a Shay Mitchell-hosted pool party.
All of that was before the Revolve crew decamped to be closer to Coachella for a takeover of the 39-acre Merv Griffin Estate in La Quinta. That's where the #REVOLVEfestival offered Instragram-worthy backdrops, an In-N-Out Burger pop-up, a gifting area of sunglasses from Quay Australia, a chance to ride a carousel that apparently came from Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch and more. The guest list included Chanel Iman, Rocky Barnes, Amelia Gray Hamlin and Kendall Jenner, and during that festival's second day, Snoop Dogg DJ'd a Sunday set before rapping some of his songs and later performing the song "Regulate" with rapper Warren G. In the throngs of afternoon guests, model Shaun Ross could be seen lounging in a poolside cabana as "grown-ish" co-star Luka Sabbat mingled with the dozens of partiers sipping Cîroc vodka-infused cocktails out of coconuts. As Coachella's first weekend winded down, Revolve, which was founded in 2003 by Michael Mente and Mike Karanikolas, had one final surprise up its designer sleeves, a special performance by Chance the Rapper.
Moschino has an H&M moment
Full disclosure: We never did make it to Jeremy Scott's annual Moschino party — one of the most sought-after shindigs in the desert — because of a festival-related transportation snafu. However, it's worth mentioning here because it's the perfect example of how brands can leverage festival buzz. In this case, it had little to do with the celebrity-heavy guest list that included Cardi B, Charli XCX, Emily Ratajkowski, Jackson, Kaluuya and Frances Bean Cobain and everything to do with an upcoming collaboration announced barely hours after Beyoncé's barnburner of a set April 14.
At some point during the wee hours of Sunday morning (again, we weren't actually there), model Gigi Hadid and Moschino creative director Jeremy Scott took to Instagram Live to announce that the Italian luxury label had collaborated with Swedish fast-fashion brand H&M on a collection that is scheduled to drop at retail Nov. 8. A few hours later, the official announcement of the collaboration landed in fashion editors' email inboxes around the globe.
When it comes to riding Coachella's coattails, Moschino's post-Beyoncé-set collaboration reveal was a genius move, and it's just the sort of synergy that keeps fashion brands flocking back to the desert year after year.
Times fashion editor Marques Harper contributed to this report.
For more musings on all things fashion and style, follow me at @ARTschorn.
April 19, 4:45 p.m.: This article was updated to include details about online retailer Revolve's activities in Palm Springs and La Quinta during the first weekend of the 2018 Coachella Music and Arts Festival.