Rachel Zoe On The Evolution Of Coachella Fashion

From denim cutoffs to rhinestone cowboy hats.

Mark Hanson
rachel zoe coachella fashion

Once a laid-back, denim-filled three-day musical getaway, Coachella (and music festivals in general) has transformed into a full-blown fashion fête, with over-the-top, skin-baring outfits taking top priority among attendees. “I think what’s happening is it’s actually shifting into a Burning Man [approach],” says celebrity stylist and TZR founder Rachel Zoe. “People are getting really over-the-top and a little more costume-y. They used to dress with denim cut-offs and braided hair.”

And while said cutoffs and braided hair may still be spotted in a Coachella crowd, so are see-through mesh dresses, cut-out tops, up-to-there slits, and micro-mini frocks. Yes, sultry, revealing style is having its day. And while Zoe appreciates the look, the stylist still prefers a more “subtle approach,” even in the intense Coachella heat. “I’m very covered up, I am showing an arm today,” laughs Zoe, referencing the silvery pleated, one-shoulder maxi dress she wore to the 2022 ZOEasis event, which saw the likes of Keke Palmer, Ava Phillippe, Olivia Culpo, and Behati Prinsloo in attendance. “I love effortless glamour. I love when you look sexy but, let people imagine what’s happening under [the clothes]. I like subtle sexiness. But that’s just my personal preference. I think I’m in the minority actually.”

If anyone has had a front seat to Coachella’s style evolution it’s Zoe. In addition to styling some of the biggest names in Hollywood for the past 20 years, she also has hosted the highly anticipated aforementioned ZOEasis party at Coachella since 2014, which has drawn major names such as Paris Hilton, Chanel Iman, Kate Bosworth, and Jamie Chung over the years. “My intention with ZOEasis was really to make it a respite in the desert, in between all the insane events and parties,” explains Zoe. “I always wanted it to be a breather on the way to the festival or like before the nighttime parties. Just a nice place to stop and hang out in between events.”

Mark Hanson

Like Coachella, the event has had its own sort of evolution, becoming a style-forward occasion over the years. And with maximalism taking fashion and beauty by storm, it seems festival (and ZOEasis) attendees are getting even more fearless with their fashion choices, especially considering the two-year hiatus from live events due to COVID. “There’s so much neon and tie-dye — I think what’s happening is people are dressing for Coachella all year,” muses Zoe. “The bright colors, the ombré, the tie-dye, the macrame, the braiding, bathing suits under clothes — we’re seeing that on the red carpet!”

Although she’s not styling much these days (Zoe has been busy running fashion and beauty membership service CURATEUR), the fashion veteran still dreams of dressing certain A-listers for desert festivals like Coachella. Who would she love to style this year, you ask? “Sienna Miller,” says Zoe. “I feel like Sienna is a festival girl without even being in a festival. Everything about her everyday style reads [Coachella]. It’s just who she is.” For a free-spirit like Miller, Zoe says she’d employ, “Lots of fringe, lots of suede, lots of ivory and eyelet.”

And, let’s not forget, Zoe herself is also synonymous with the free-spirited boho-chic look that has been aligned with Coachella style. “I’m pretty festival all year,” says Zoe with a laugh. “I’m a bit more of a glam version of it. For as long as I can remember I have been wearing Coachella-style clothes.”