How celebrity fashion culture is killing the family holiday

Bound for Coachella ... stylist Lana Wilkinson.
Bound for Coachella ... stylist Lana Wilkinson. Photo: AAP

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For the uninitiated, Coachella is a music festival that takes place every April over two weekends in the Californian desert, near Palm Springs.

The festival, which this year features Ariana Grande (last year starred Beyonce), attracts a roll call of A-list celebrities. There's also a sizeable Australian crew heading over, including the likes of Bec Judd, Nadia Bartel, Jodi Gordon and stylist Lana Wilkinson.

Fashion will be in focus when Coachella hits Palm Springs over the next two weekends.
Fashion will be in focus when Coachella hits Palm Springs over the next two weekends. Photo: AP

While technically the trip is the women's private holiday, it's also a golden opportunity to shoot content for their followers on social media. This means there's been an extraordinary amount of preparation involved, from outfit selection to fitness training; all documented on Instagram.

Last week, Gordon shared a post of her at the gym, with the caption: "This is the process ... Coachella ready baby."

Earlier, Judd posted photos of her young sons at the atelier of Melbourne couturiers J'Aton, who made her wedding and multiple Brownlow dresses and are dressing her for part of the trip.

What happened to simply throwing on a pair of denim cutoffs and a slashed band T-shirt?

Wilkinson, who is dressing influencer Jessie Murphy for the entire trip and model Brooke Hogan for one event, joked that she had tried to limit her own trip wardrobe to two suitcases.


She said the opportunity to go to Coachella was once in a lifetime and, while she was happy to do a fair amount of pre-styling for Judd, Murphy and Hogan, she's intent on also having a good time.

"It's been about a month of planning," she said. "What I am excited about is from a fashion point of view ... creatively to do different stuff."

As someone who regularly dresses Murphy for red carpets, Wilkinson is used to going full black tie but this was a chance for her to extend her styling range ("I am going really cool rock chic") and also "showcase some of our amazing brands in a different landscape".

Fair enough. But one has to ask why a woman, even one as Insta-famous as Murphy or Judd, needs a stylist for what is meant to be a holiday?

Wilkinson said some are time poor because of work or family commitments, or want to "put some distance" between them and obligations to the brands they approach for clothing by having a stylist as a go-between.

She added that, unlike sponsored trips, the women have committed to not documenting every single aspect of the accommodation, fashion and hospitality.

"I guess that takes out some of that pressure. Any photos I want to take, [I will] get them done before we walk out [of the hotel] – after that it can monopolise your holiday."

And therein lies the rub. Social media has a lot to answer for in terms of the pressure people – often young and female – feel to pack the "perfect" holiday wardrobe, to ensure they don't repeat the same outfit too often, and to generate good content (even if they aren't making a dime from it).

I have also fallen victim to this ill. In February, I went to London Fashion Week for one week but filled two large suitcases with several coats, jackets and day-to-night outfit changes.

In contrast, when I travelled to New York last month for two weeks, I did so with one small suitcase. I wore my same coat the whole trip and, more pointedly, on multiple Instagram posts. And the world didn't end.

A recent episode of How Two Live podcast, hosted by Melbourne sisters Jess and Stef Dadon, discussed how they had ruined numerous family holidays through their obsession with capturing every moment for social media.

"You're on this amazing holiday in an amazing setting and you're spending three hours setting up [a photo]," Stef Dadon said.

With stories like these, it's no surprise that more of us are enforcing social media blackouts during holidays. It alleviates the (self-inflicted) pressure of packing the right number of "looks" and posting at the "right" time of day back in Australia to capture the best engagement, while forcing us to actually be present for the people with whom we have supposedly shelled out cash to spend time with.

I left it to Wilkinson to have the last word: "As a group we have all discussed it, and agreed we are not doing [the trip] for the 'gram. But I am sure in a few weeks there will be heaps of photos [posted]. It's just how we have become engineered."