Celestial At Coachella

Björk brough something out of this world to the American music festival. And it was heavenly

It is Coachella season in the US, which also means spring has arrived. Or, time for “festival dressing”. Appearing on stage this year is the Icelandic star Björk Guðmundsdóttir. Unlike other performers who chose sexy as the performance message (such as a very famous girl band that donned the more meretricious costumes of Dolce and Gabbana), Björk augmented her weird fashion sense (in a good way) by wearing Kei Ninomiya, a Comme des Garçons alum. The always-her-own chanteuse makes her third Coachella appearance and again, she bucked what the Kardashian-Jenner sisters and company would wear. Her outfits and her track set cemented Coachella Valley Music and Art Festival’s early reputation as an indie-rock festival, rather than the largely pop fare it offers these days.

As a performer, Björk has always made costume choices that are the antithesis of, say, what Beyoncé loves, to the extend that she does sometimes look like an alien, but one we’re happy to receive. Her stage costumes are not restricted by the limitations of live performances; they could look as lavish and fantastical as anything worn in her music videos, such as those in the more recent Atopos. Björk and Kei Ninomiya, who dressed her for her multi-stop performances in Japan last month, are a natural fit. For Coachella, she was togged in an over-the-head cloak from the Japanese designer’s Noir line that seemed to be made of tiny filaments (purportedly fiber optic cables) atop an asymmetrically draped dress. This two-layer went over a printed bodysuit by compatriot Thora Stefansdottir, the London-based textile and fashion designer. From afar, Björk looked like a bioluminescent bug. Or, perhaps, sundew?

The Reykjavík-born star, as a performer, has always offered a total experience. At Coachella, her costumes were not the only compelling component of the show. Just as the music was sonically wondrous (even if not exactly rocking, including the cinematic Hunter and Isobel, and the Oscar-nominated I’ve Seen It All), the stage set up was a visual treat as well. The action, in fact, was concurrently happening above-stage, as in the air. An army of drones, 864 of them, dotted the sky with military precision, just over the roof of the stage, forming gleaming fractals of shapes, some extraterrestrial, some human, such as a hulk with an incredible dong, squatting—and watchful.

But the singer in the strange clothes (and make-up and headpieces) remained the pull, performing with full “orkestral” (as she described on Instagram) accompaniment. Björk understands more than the average performer the importance of costume on stage and its effects it can have on focusing the attention on the singer. There was another change that saw her in another Noir Kei Ninomiya outfit—an also-spikey stole (and just as transparent) and a multi-plane skirt that could be designed by AI. Together with her moves, she remained dutifully the hyper-balladeer of style. Elsewhere in the dessert, now a massive concert site, Kendal Jenner wore a black, sleeveless, cropped top and a pair of slacks that Vogue online delightfully described as “anti Coachella”. If so, what would you call Björk?

Photo: Björk/Instagram and Björk’s vault of dank memes/Twitter