Most of us are familiar with the urge to go costume shopping right before a festival. You want to look different and stand out in the crowd! You want people to comment on what you’re wearing and ask you to take pictures with you. But are you willing to shell out $10,000 to turn a few eyes?
A 33 year-old Tribeca-based real estate agent is buying a $10,000 outfit for her first-ever trip to Burning Man this week, including a fishnet bodysuit, strappy thigh-high boots, a fur coat and a showgirl-style headpiece. “I’m one of those people who’d rather spend money on experiences than material things,” she says. “I’m fortunate enough to be able to do it.”
The nine-day festival, which kicked off Sunday and is now in its 31st year, is famous for its counterculture philosophies: There’s no exchange of money on-site, and attendees shack up in tents and RVs and espouse a “no handshakes, only hugs” mantra. One of its core tenets is “decommodification.” In recent years, the party commune has become increasingly inundated by work-hard-play-hard professionals looking to temporarily free themselves from societal constraints, and they’ll pay big bucks for flashy outfits to match the anything-goes vibe.
Nancy Marcus is the fashion stylist behind this outfit, and she’s made a name for herself outfitting eccentric wealthy Burners for the past three years. A longtime Burner herself, the stylist got her start by helping out fellow attendees before realizing she could make a business out of it. Her rates range anywhere from $1,000 for a couple of pieces to $10,000 for an entire custom wardrobe that can include up to 20 pieces.
But whether you’re in heels or high tops, the festival isn’t Fashion Week. Attendees face unpredictable and inclement weather and blustery winds that stir up sand — all without access to running water or bathrooms. Still, Marcus encourages her clients to commit to their looks. “Burning Man is all about radical self-expression,” says Marcus. “It’s your chance to be exactly who you want to be.”
Most of us will probably stick to furry leg warmers and rave kitty shirts for the time being.