The Need-to-Know Milliner for Coachella

Lesley McKenzie

When it comes to music-festival attire, Janessa Leone knows what she’s talking about. Not only is the Los Angeles-based milliner a Coachella veteran, but her love of music often inspires her timeless pieces. So it’s no surprise that the designer will be part of the ShopBazaar pop-up boutique at Soho Desert House in La Quinta during the first weekend of Coachella, alongside brands including Aurelie Bidermann, Mansur Gavriel and Westward Leaning.

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To understand the Venice Beach-based Leone’s musical influences, look no further than her first collection that debuted in 2013. The line immediately catapulted the now-27 year-old designer into the style stratosphere, and was snapped up by the likes of Barneys New York. Titled “Shadows,” the collection of handcrafted hats—which was inspired by a vintage chapeau Leone discovered on a trip to Paris—pays homage to women immortalized in songs, from Lucy in The Beatles’ "Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds" to Bob Dylan’s "Isis."

“I named them all after women’s names in songs, but we don’t know who they are. They’re not famous in their own right and we don’t know if they even exist,” says Leone, a die-hard Radiohead fan and San Diego native who has now made Los Angeles home alongside her boyfriend, musician Kevin Jaemes.

Since launching two years ago, Janessa Leone’s namesake brand has already been spotted on the likes of Chrissy Teigen, Blake Lively and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and landed Leone a coveted spot on the Forbes’ 30 Under 30 List this year.

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And with festival season at our front door, expect to see plenty more fans donning Leone’s toppers, fashioned from the likes of felt and straw, and festooned with feather and leather embellishments. Come May, the designer will launch a selection of exclusive festival headgear in collaboration with online shopping destination Forward by Elyse Walker. Equal parts fashionable and functional, these hats are designed to take festival-goers from day to night.

“It needs to be able to stay on your head, and not be too wide-brimmed. And it can’t be so structured that you can’t fold it,” says Leone, who opted for durable and flexible materials like coconut straw when creating the pieces and plans on wearing the Jalk number (pictured above) from her collection this Coachella—should she end up going. “The first Coachella we went to, we bought tickets two hours before we left,” she laughs. “We’ll probably do the same this year.”