Don’t be perplexed if you bump into any oddball individuals donning candy-colored tutus, light-up bras, LED-laced hats, neon wigs or fuzzy boots. With Ultra Music Festival, Winter Music Conference and Miami Music Week commencing March 21 – 28, Miami’s fashion scene will waver between the eccentric and outlandish compliments of the electronic dance music (EDM) festivals.
“Festival fashion has evolved over the years but it’s always been about dramatic self-expression and a heightening of the party atmosphere. Just as musicians push the envelope of the electronic genre, event attendees break the barrier between fashion and costume to enhance the event experience,” Neon Nancy Creative Director Lyndsey Ann Merryman says of the fashion ethos behind EDM events.
Festival outfits are amazingly over the top, inspired by the enchantment of youth with playful adornment and wild color combinations. “It’s an excuse to dress up as a flower child, princess, rockstar, superhero version of yourself, get together with friends and dance for hours on end. In addition to huge bass drops, psychedelic settings and a vivacious crowd, fashion is a key part of most EDM events,” Merryman adds.
For most concertgoers, dressing up is an art form. Miami-based Michelle Casares (raver name: Lady Casa) has attended 12 consecutive Ultra and WMC seasons and says, “Anything goes at a rave — dress to express! This culture is known for allowing festival-goers to dress in any way they wish without feeling judged.” Revered for her over-the-top costumes — think Native American-inspired headdresses, bedazzled eyes, and Rainbow Brite-esque knee-high stockings — Casares says of her funky head piece, “Its bright colors and huge size drew in a tremendous amount of attention. It was difficult to maneuver through the crowd, but I dealt with the consequences and wore the piece proudly as a spiritual symbol.”
Enmeshed in the rave scene for a decade, Midtown Miami resident Kristine Ramirez (raver name: Mama K) says, “Costume is an expression of self. In a non-judgmental scene, it’s beautiful to know that you can come as your true self and we will all love you for it.” Aside from quirky costumes, attendees wear a barrage of beaded bracelets called “kandi” where said accessories are exchanged with a choreographed handshake. “I believe kandi, as a fashion style, is often misunderstood. To an outsider it may seem childish or tacky. The depth and powerful meaning behind wearing kandi, and the trading ritual, may be overlooked,” Casares adds.
And while everyone comes to Ultra, WMC and MMW for the music, it’s clear the aberrant attendees are an integral part of the experience. Merryman say, “It’s the entire setting and everyone in it that sets the stage for the event, so the crazier the outfits, props and light shows are… the better!”
(Below is a sampling of fashion styles from Ultra Music Festival, and some current fashion items for sale.)