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Festival fashion and flamboyant set changes: Glastonbury’s best on-stage looks

by Jameliah K. N. Adekunle 

Annually Glastonbury provides a multitude of entertainment, of course music, but also comedy, talk shows and visual imagery across costume and set design, playing a distinctive part in the iconic vibe of Worthy Farm’s holy grail of performing arts. 


EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP


The controversy surrounding her late arrival on stage has been flooding the media, but despite what people have to say, Lana Del Rey’s set was effortlessly jampacked, not only with the angelic lulls of her music, but also the attention to detail of her own, and the show’s, visual aesthetic. Del Rey’s mesmerising set had a range of outstanding visual imagery that levelled a multifaceted theatre performance, with a focus on engaging the audience through an intricate set including swings rigged from the ceiling, adorned with flowers and foliage to suit the “soft grunge” and “coquette” Tumblr-esque aesthetic that Del Rey pioneered. 


Del Rey’s performance’s monochromatic costume change from black to white reflected the varying mood of her performance and inner turmoil she laments in her songs.  The beginning of the set was eerie and sexily devilish with Del Rey positioned centre stage wearing a extravagant, black tailcoat with pearly white, over-exaggerated cuffs and a long train, occasionally tousled by her backing dancers in skimpy sequined black dresses for the raunchy “A&W.” 


The dancers were a true asset to the visual portrayal of Del Rey’s melancholic, chaotic relationships that are prominent within her lyricism. The dancers acted as a visual aid to seamlessly transition from song to song as Del Rey was undressed by them to reveal an all-white outfit that could only scream angelic tones but was juxtaposed with the depressive lyrics of her iconic hit from her 2012 album of the same name, “Born to Die,” that defies the innocence and purity that can often be associated with young love. Del Rey is known to utilise her American heritage as inspiration for her music and this does not only apply sonically. The white, blue and red of the American flag were a consistent motif throughout her performance as her white outfit was framed in a melange of royal blue party dresses and bright red lighting. 


Moving into the night, traipsing through the renowned “Shangri-La” area that boasts the largest crowds in the early hours of the morning, the femme-championing shubz-derived collective Pussy Palace took a zero f**ks given approach to self-expression and brought punchy visuals that echoed a variety of queer fashion subcultures. Typical visual signifiers of queer sex parties such as leather, PVC and skimpy, sexy mesh were paired alongside classic festival sequins, tassels and denim to create a hybridised visual image. 


The realness of visual effervescence lies within the LGTBQ+ community. The empowered sense of community and rebellion was defiantly shown through the aesthetic of PP’s Glasto takeover; from the alternating GoGo dancers flirting with the audience to the resident DJs representing queer culture behind the decks, sequins and all. 


The eclecticism and hyphenated nature of the collective incorporates a visual aesthetic that reflects the diversity of its members. Being an audience member allowed you to enter the tactful and exhilarating world of queer hedonism that bursts with visual energy through vivid colours and exposed skin. Founders Nadine Artois and Skye Barr are truly the baddies of Brick Lane and brought the much needed queer energy to Glastonbury.  


And last but certainly not least, Sir Elton John’s debut Glastonbury headliner set. His striking gold reflective suit coupled with his iconic red-tinted sunglasses and matching gold Gucci trainers was giving gay grandad chic. The Pyramid Stage was flooded with colour, sequins and Elton memorabilia. The set design did not fall short either. The use of pyrotechnics to emulate a shooting star during the cult classic “Rocket Man” was the true definition of magical and offered a childlike, surreal moment. The epic firework display was timed to the climaxes of the song and bursted in a variety of fiery tones to mark the end of Sir Elton’s performances in the UK. 


The most anticipated set of the night defined Sir Elton John’s career through the ages and the importance of Glastonbury’s visuals today and in years to come. 


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