Charlotte Emma Aitchison (the Brit pop star who goes by the moniker Charli XCX) is one to watch — both on the style and music fronts. Prepping to kick off her opening act on Taylor Swift’s Reputation Tour next month, Charli XCX showed up at the Coachella music festival for back-to-back performances Saturday, donning the ‘90s-era styles that are back in vogue. The 25-year-old behind the hits “Boom Clap” and “Boys” warmed up poolside at Lucky Brand’s Desert Jam party at the Arrive Hotel in Palm Springs with a few tracks before jumping on the main stage at Coachella for a surprise performance of “Porsche” with her friend MO, aka Danish electo-pop artist Karen Marie Aagaard.
At the Lucky Brand party, the singer (also known for writing the song “Fancy” for Iggy Azalea) donned a white crop top with oversize ‘90s-era Lucky Brand jeans pulled from the archives and cinched with a clear Lucite belt that she told THR she nabbed in a vintage shop, along with her favorite, beat-up chunky-heeled black booties and retro-glam rhinestone earrings. For her surprise p.m. jam sesh with MO, Aitchison got more flashy in a studded metallic bra top and glittery gold track pants.
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While this is just the second time she’s been to Coachella, Aitchison (who started her career with warehouse raves in East London when she was 14 years old) has a long history at the Glastonbury Festival. “In the U.K., people get down and dirty at festivals,” she says. “It’s typically pouring rain at Glastonbury so everyone’s muddy, in Wellies, while Coachella’s boiling hot so you’re drinking loads of water and wearing as few clothes as possible. Everyone looks so glamorous here, you know, it’s very L.A.”
Back in her rave days, Charli XCX was known for her neon tutus and disheveled hair. Then her style evolved into what she dubbed “Disney grunge” (heavy on punky Vivienne Westwood pieces and sky-high platform heels). Blame it on L.A., where she purchased a 1920s Tudor-style home in the Hollywood Hills in 2015 and that same year clipped her hair into a smooth, razored bob, but these days her look has morphed into something a bit more sleek, without losing her signature kick of attitude. She collaborates on her wardrobe with L.A.-based costume designer and stylist Lisa Katnic.
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Asked about her style icons, Aitchison quickly responds, “Drew Barrymore in the ‘90s,” and says she’s also into the effortless style of iconic French beauties Charlotte Gainsbourg and Lou Doillon. When it comes to L.A. shopping, the pop singer frequents the new Fred Segal flagship on Sunset Boulevard and vintage shops, including Squaresville in Los Feliz. She also loves to hang at the Moonlight Rollerway roller skating rink and iPic Theaters “because it’s so fun, we don’t have upscale movie theaters like that in England!”
Aitchison launched a 20-piece eyeliner collection with Makeup Forever in 2016 and has done a few sell-out fashion collabs with British e-tailer boohoo.com, but she says that she doesn’t have any beauty or fashion projects in the works: “For now I’m just focusing on music.”
She actually visualizes music in colors, a condition called synesthesia that’s shared by musicians including Kanye West, Mary J. Blige, Pharrell Williams, Lorde, Billy Joel, Duke Ellington and others. “I see music in colors,” she says. “For some reason, I don’t tend to like green, orange, brown and yellow, but I love red, pink and purple.”
In the crowd at her colorful Coachella performance at the Lucky Brand party were actor Patrick Schwarzenegger and his model girlfriend Abby Champion in matching white tees and denim cutoffs, actress Brandi Cyrus (Miley Cyrus’ older sis), Lisa Rinna’s and Harry Hamlin’s model daughter Delilah Belle Hamlin and musician Harry Hudson (bestie to Kylie Jenner and Jaden Smith), who played songs from his new debut album Yesterday’s Tomorrow Night — donning his trademark red Goorin Bros hat with Lucky Brand denim as he plunged into the pool at the end of his set.