Electric Picnic style: ‘Glitter. Short shorts. Fishnets. Nipples.’
Previous festivals have been defined by Kate Moss impersonators. Not this year
“Their make-up is immaculate, which strikes me as a singular achievement for three-day campers.” Photograph: Niall Carson /PA Wire
Asking me to write a fashion report on this year’s Electric Picnic is like making a colour-blind person describe a rainbow in detail. I have no idea what I’m looking at. Mercifully, the fashion forward of Stradbally will take pity on a roving correspondent who dresses as though, 19 years later, he is still trying to find his skateboard.
Two friends from Dublin, Jen Kierce and Aoife Carty, clearly know what they’re about, resplendent in dresses and denim jackets in a look inspired by the 1990s – or at least how the 1990s looked on television. Jen wears an intricately patterned dress, which she describes as Aztec, sourced from the website Asos. “It’s very good,” she tells me.
“So is Missguided.”
Duly noted. Both have worked out their outfits in advance, meticulously calibrated for energy levels and climate: comfortable but stylish for Friday’s arrival; dressy for Saturday; more relaxed for Sunday.
“You’re going to be tired after the weekend,” I’m told.
Their make-up is immaculate, which strikes me as a singular achievement for three-day campers.
Drawn by some superlative eye game, I talk to Amy Duncan, who turns out to be a professional make-up artist with Inglot, and her friend Doreena Golden, both from Mullingar. The embellishments of Golden’s eyes, self-applied, are pure art, beginning with neat silver crescents that fan out in smouldering shades, like a tropical sunrise, trimmed above her brows by a corona of neat multi-coloured dots.
How long did it take? “About half an hour,” she says. I just don’t think I could apply myself like that. “I don’t think any boy can,” she says.
Clearly Doreena had not yet encountered Che Crazay, a Galway-based fledgling drag performer, who, even without her vertiginous heels, stands at about seven and a half feet tall. Che’s look, a kind of goth cabaret ringmaster, is entirely gettable with a little ingenuity and a lot of patience: her tailcoat is a second-hand acquisition from a costume shop, accessorised with rhinestones, which she has also trailed down the clasps of a tight matching corset (“thanks hun, Penneys”). Into an affordable top hat, from Dealz, she has pinned and glued an array of sparkling earrings to present a pleasing juxtaposition of gender tropes.
Fishnets serve both an aesthetic and practical purpose. “I didn’t shave my legs because I have such bad razor burn,” Che points out.
Elsewhere, a jovial Belfast man called Richard Nicholas is taking bigger risks with a pristine, two-piece aquamarine-blue suit, uniformly printed with the fishy contents of a busy aquarium. Its thin polyester fabric builds up static electricity with every footstep, and he admits that he is keeping away from naked flames. Just in case.
“You have to think practically,” Karen Murnane tells me. As a Cork-based nurse, she ought to know. Murnane’s inspiration is, to hazard a guess, an elfin dream child. Her one specific purchase has been an iridescent, perhaps bulletproof, sequined crop-top from New Look, which works with almost anything: “Black shorts, black jeans, fishnets.”
Her friend Tara Green, is more of an improviser with a dress cavalierly unbuttoned to the waist. “Glitter and a bum bag is an instant outfit,” she explains.
This year’s Picnic, they observe, has been skimpier affair than most.
It is also certainly a more individual one: previous festivals have been defined by slavish Kate Moss impersonators. This year, people are mostly doing their own thing.
That makes it harder for the sartorially bewildered to draw any firm conclusions. A kind young soul, not conspicuously racked with confidence issues, takes pity on me and issues a helpful summary.
“Glitter,” she says. “Short shorts. Fishnets. And nipples.”
Some things never go out of style.