What to wear to Coachella has become as intense a dilemma for many festival-goers as deciding which acts to watch perform. Crop tops, everything fringe, flower crowns and flowing dresses are high in demand come festival season, and a growing number of designers big and small are dedicating entire collections to bohemian attire fit for the three-day party in Indio.
One such company is For Love and Lemons, a six-year old fashion company based in the Arts District in Los Angeles, founded and owned by longtime best friends and Wyoming-natives Gillian Rose Kern and Laura Hall.
The pair has never actually attended Coachella themselves, but Coachella’s ballooning influence came to them about three years ago when they noticed a spike in customers seeking apparel specifically for the annual music festival in the desert. To address the demand they created a specific “festival line,” for the first time this year. The clothing is meant to also apply to other music festivals and mass gatherings such as Burning Man and Outside Lands.
Their Festival Collection is about balancing comfort and risk taking and consists of sixteen pieces in an ivory and black color palette with a few florals, mainly all dresses, and a few exclusive high waisted undergarments to wear underneath the sheer garments. It was designed as a collaboration with the jewelry line Jacquie Aiche.
DnA talked to the designing duo and learned about what makes the quintessential Coachella outfit, how Instagram has been a game-changer and why big companies like H&M are getting in on the action.
DnA: How did your brand For Love and Lemons get started?
Gillian Rose Kern: Well Laura and I have been best friends since we were very little. We used to have lemonade stands together, that’s where the name comes from. We’ve been in business pretty much ever since.
Then I went to design school and Laura majored in marketing. And after that we met back up and moved to Australia and we did fashion internships there, and while we were there we decided to start our own line.
So we moved back home, we are from Wyoming, and we were working and saving up money and sewing our collection, and we took those samples and went to Bali, because the people we worked with in Australia told us about factories we could go to in Bali, so we went there and made a very small production run and brought it back and did trunk shows throughout California, Colorado and Wyoming and we finally found a showroom, and then we moved our production to L.A., and we started growing and getting in great stores here and online and we started growing our social media presence pretty quickly. We started with clothes and then expanded into lingerie and now we are also working on a knitwear collection as well.
DnA: Tell us about your festival collection.
GRK: We wanted to create something that we knew a girl had to wear at any festival throughout the summer. It’s basically an extension of our normal clothing line, it’s just a little easier to wear, it’s light, airy, sheer-looking pieces.
Some of the garments are a little bit more risky than our normal collection, because we know that girls at festivals like to wear their bikinis underneath. We do do a lot of lace dresses, so I would say that with the lace dresses you wouldn’t wear a lining underneath, and you might wear a bikini or a body suit or paired up with our Skivvies, our lingerie line which is a little bit more full coverage than normal lingerie, but it also does the easy, airy, casual cool.
GRK: Yeah it is. But this is the first time we’ve done it. Normally we just design our spring collection with some pieces for festivals in mind, because that’s the same time that it comes out. But this time we decided to create this festival capsule collection, and it’s crazy how well we do with it. It’s insane. We sent some girls to the festival this year to take pictures, and they said that there just were so many people in our stuff.
Laura Hall: Our spring collection has been out for a couple of months now, so girls want to be wearing something brand new that nobody has ever seen before.
You just want to feel like you are going to stand out in it.
DnA: What is the quintessential Coachella outfit?
LH: I would say a sheer long maxi dress and and pairing under it a highwaisted underwear and a bra with a pair of comfortable boots and a little cute hat to protect your face from the sun and a backpack.
DnA: What do you think about H&M’s Coachella-specific line and other big brands getting in on the Coachella bandwagon?
GRK: I mean it’s smart for them to do that, because there’s a huge demand for it. But I do think that girls when they are going to festivals, they want something from a smaller brand, because it’s more unique and they won’t run into a bunch of people wearing the same thing. But I think that all designers are looking at these festivals and saying this is something I need to pay attention to and be a part of.
DnA: Did you participate in Los Angeles Fashion Week?
GRK: We haven’t. We are more of a lookbook brand, so we are really big on our images, so we put most of our advertising into our lookbooks.
DnA: It seems like in a way Coachella is an unofficial version of Los Angeles fashion week.
GRK: I think you’re definitely right on that, because it’s the California fashion right there, it sums it up at those festivals.
Los Angeles Fashion Week is not New York, it’s not Paris. So for us when you showcase what you’re wearing, what your personal style is, festivals are the best way to do it, people really go all out for it.
People think about their outfits weeks and weeks in advance, people treat Coachella and other festivals like their runway in a way. They know they’re going to get photographed, and they know they’re going to be on blogs, and they know that their Instagrams are going to go everywhere. So it really is where L.A. fashion is.
LH: And all the celebrities and influencers that go, they all want to be wearing exclusive styles, so we actually created exclusive styles this year that we made sure that nobody else was going to wear.
DnA: Did you dress any celebrities this year?
GRK: We Wore What, she’s a blogger based out of New York, she wore one of our dresses.
In the past we have dressed Katy Perry, Kendall Jenner, and Alessandra Ambrosio at Coachella.
We realized that Coachella was when most celebrities were wearing our clothes. So that’s when it started standing out to us, because then it was getting published on all of these blogs and we were getting so much PR from it.
GRK: It’s really important. I mean social media is like the best form of free advertisement these days.
DnA: Do you feel like social media was a game changer for this aesthetic?
GRK: I think it was definitely a game changer. I mean you see girls now that are going out to these festivals, and they’re just taking pictures for their own blogs, and they’re getting paid by fashion companies to do it.
LH: And even within the shopping world, I know personally if I were to want to buy a dress, I’ll go try to find that dress on Instagram and see it on girls. People want to see what they’re going to buy on somebody, especially if they’re shopping online. Because it’s nice to be able to see it on a real person, and see how they are moving in it, and get a feel for the life of the garment.
DnA: Did people come to you first for Coachella stylings or did you guys start designing for that look when you saw that it was becoming so influential?
GRK: We noticed it about three years ago when it started getting kind of crazy for us. We didn’t really know it was going to happen. We just kind of had that California style. There are a lot of girls who want to wear our garments, but they can’t necessarily because some of them are sheer or very risky. So a festival is the perfect opportunity for it.
Then we saw that they were talking about it on their social media profiles and that they were planning their next Coachella outfit or Burning Man outfit. So we were like this is going to definitely be a thing. Girls are kind of obsessed with the idea of dressing up for these festivals. So that’s when we decided that we wanted to do an exclusive collection.
DnA: So what little flourishes or adjustments do you make to your collections to make it more Coachella or festival?
GRK: Yes, that sort of thing but we mostly just made everything looser, kind of just hanging off your body, very airy and lightweight.
We definitely lowered necklines on things so you could wear your bikini underneath it, we made things with really low backs and really low armholes, we kind of just lowered a lot of our necklines and shortened the dresses and made them looser. It gets really hot out there, and girls want to have something that’s easy and doesn’t feel tight on their body.
DnA: Do you think there’s an element of fantasy in Coachella clothing?
GRK: Definitely. Girls can almost like get into a character when they go to these festivals.
It’s kind of weird, but in a way you want to slightly compare it to Halloween, because it’s a time when girls can dress up in something that they have wanted to wear and they don’t get to wear on a day-to-day basis, so that’s get to go all out and it’s a very exciting experience for them.
GRK: Definitely, I mean you have to keep it classy, you don’t want it to go over the top because you might look a little crazy, but I think definitely think there is a line. It’s hard to say what it is until you actually see it and you’re like ‘that was the line.’
DnA: Do you think that do you think that Coachella has a specific aesthetic that differentiates itself from other festivals? For example, do you add cowboy boots and hat for Stagecoach?
LH: I think it’s just the biggest festival. And most people know about it, and it happens to be in the desert, which is a big differentiator from other festivals.
But we really made the collection for festival season in general, because we feel like there are similarities in all of them. The girl that wears our clothes will wear more or less the same things to all of those festivals.
DnA: Are you going to be there this weekend?
LH: No, we are too busy; we are swamped with orders. But I will go to Stagecoach though. We’ve actually never been to Coachella.
DnA: We’ve talked a lot about what women wear to Coachella. What makes a stylish Coachella outfit for a man?
GRK: I don’t think it will ever be as big for men, but I think of Jared Leto, he always has very cool outfits at Coachella.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.
All images courtesy of For Love and Lemons.