How to wear... crochet
This season, it’s more than a Coachella cliché, as fashion embraces homespun clothes that go beyond festival style. Meadhbh McGrath reports on the handmade tale
Coachella wrapped up its second weekend on Sunday, marking the official launch of festival season around the globe. At this stage, the star-studded event has been largely co-opted by fashion, as for two weekends in April, the desert valley in Southern California becomes the place to be seen for countless models, reality TV stars and influencers.
Last week, Montana Brown, a fan favourite from the hit ITV dating competition Love Island, admitted that the reality of attending Coachella is far from the Instagram-filtered fantasy. She wrote in a social media post that "it smelt like gerbils" and that most of the time, she was grappling with blisters on her feet and sand up her nose. She also pointed out that she had to change outfits three times in an hour to get her required Instagram photos.
Over the years, Coachella style has become so homogenous and predictable that it amounts to a uniform: denim cut-off shorts, face glitter and all things crochet. There have been crochet dresses, halterneck tops, hot pants, flares, kimonos and much more.
But fashion is fighting back. As a rebuttal to the tedious clichés that have become 21st century festival staples, designers are offering up a fresh vision of crochet, with an emphasis on homespun, handcrafted clothes.
Perhaps as a reaction to our increasing dependency on machines and technology, the spring-summer collections celebrate a return to the handmade garment with wearable arts and crafts.
On the catwalk, Oscar de la Renta presented a series of dresses, skirts and tops, worn variously with strappy sandals and breezy trousers or a silk camisole and oversized blazer, taking crochet from the beach to the office.
Black Panther actress Danai Gurira has since worn one of the brand's gowns on the red carpet, making the case for crochet as unconventional, innovative occasion wear. On a budget, Zara has an impressive range of midi dresses that could be dressed up for this season's weddings with a slip and heeled sandals, or look to New York brand Ulla Johnson, whose patterned crochet dress just needs a smattering of gold rings and hoops to finish it off.
In her spring collection, Victoria Beckham offered a typically modern interpretation, with crochet vests and dresses layered over white T-shirts and camisoles, worn with slim trousers and a boxy blazer.
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley recently stepped out in one of the catwalk looks, showcasing a smart and polished take on crochet that was worlds away from the classic beach bum gear.
The crochet vest makes for a great layering piece, whether you style it with a blazer and slacks like Rosie or a shirt and pencil skirt. For a more laid-back take, lean into the neutrals trend by pairing a beige top with tan trousers.
A loose jumper like Stradivarius' red number, which also comes in cool yellow and beige stripes, is an ideal cover-up for a summery gingham dress: you can throw it on when it gets chilly, without getting too hot.
Of course, crochet is a holiday must-have, and there are plenty of sun-ready options in the shops too. At the higher end, the effect was a revitalised bohemian spirit, with breezy crochet dresses in beige, red and black at Altuzarra.
On the high street, you'll find dresses, shorts, tops and trousers in a range of zesty shades at Warehouse thanks to the store's collaboration with designer Shrimps. Just add espadrilles and keep fingers crossed for sunshine.