Although it has hosted legendary acts such as David Bowie and Pink Floyd, England’s Glastonbury music festival always has been only partly about the music. That’s why fashion photographer Venetia Dearden pointed her lens away from the stage and toward the crowd for her new book, “Glastonbury: Another Stage ($50, Kehrer).”
This story first appeared in the May 28, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The tome features more than 300 color portraits of Glasto goers, taken across five years in a booth Dearden set up on the festival grounds. The images, most of which are full length and against a white background, aren’t meant to be glamour shots, per se. “I didn’t go there thinking, ‘Oh my God, it’s all about the fabulous outfits,’” Dearden says. “It was really more about a connection with people.”
Albeit people sporting bright blue tutus, hot pink Hammer pants, green face paint, parasols, fishnets, devil horns, wedding gowns, fairy wings and, of course, all manner of Wellies (Glasto’s unofficial slogan is “peace, love, mud”). “That’s what the festival does to people,” Dearden explains. “They enter this crazy world for four days and suddenly they can be whatever they want to be.”
Dearden should know. The photographer grew up in the sleepy town of Somerset, where the festival takes place, and has been attending Glastonbury all of her life. She says that helped her bond with her subjects — ranging from Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen to regular old citizens. “Sometimes an entire family would come along and I’d make them some tea,” she says. “That’s what I really enjoyed, having this space to meet all these incredible people.”
While style may not have been Dearden’s main focus, her project has an undeniable fashion connection: Brit brand Mulberry sponsored the book’s publication, exhibited some of Dearden’s prints in its New York boutiques and is selling the book in its stores and on its Web site. On Tuesday, the house continued its support with a party on the roof of Milk Studios in New York.