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Why the Cannes Film Festival is the epitome of red carpet fashion

By Don-Alvin Adegeest


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Fashion |Opinion

Bella Hadid wears gown by Saint Laurent and jewellery by Chopard at the Cannes Film Festival Credits: Image courtesy of Chopard

Dripping in the world’s most beautiful diamonds, model and entrepreneur Bella Hadid posed for photographers as she walked the red carpet at a Cannes Film Festival event this week. A guest of Chopard, the Swiss haute jeweller and watchmaker, Ms. Hadid, like so many actresses, celebrities, muses, models, and those on fashion’s periphery, all descended on the Côte d’Azur for what is arguably the most prominent red carpet for fashion and jewellery in the world.

Luxury businesses have taken center stage at Cannes, with jewellers notching up tens of millions of euros in media impact value (MIV) as their names appear next to the most famous and beautiful faces. Chopard coined the hashtags #theredcarpetjeweller and #chopardlovesfilm, securing thousands of media placements as one of the festival's top red carpet partnerships with Ms. Hadid and simultaneously raking in millions of euros in MIV.

Cinematic Glamour

Documenting arrivals at Nice’s airport, actors are invariably photographed from the moment of disembarking, and images of their looks are carefully curated in the media coursesy of fashion’s link to the paparazzi. With its inherent link to the film industry, the connection to cinema's golden age is reflected in the fashion, with many stars opting for looks that evoke the glamour of classic Hollywood, but with a modern twist. There is room for personality too, with Cate Blanchett reportedly making a subtle pro-Palestine fashion statement with her black Haider Ackermann for Jean Paul Gaultier spring 2023 haute couture gown. With a lining in green and pale pink, the juxtaposition with the red carpet made it appear as the colours of the Palestinian flag.

Perfect timing and buzz

The ten-day event is a key performance driver for fashion and luxury brands, generating a buzz unlike any other in the world. Compared to the Met Gala, which is always themed and often more costume dressing than the haute couture of dreams, the sophisticated locale of the French Riviera enhances the overall ambiance, making the red carpet appearances even more stunning. The timing in late May, just before summer, also means favourable weather that allows for more daring and avant-garde fashion choices.

Unlike the Oscars, which is a one-night event, and the Met Gala, which is a single evening, the Cannes Film Festival spans nearly two weeks. This extended duration gives designers and celebrities multiple opportunities to showcase a wide array of fashion statements, from couture to chic daywear, resulting in a sustained focus on fashion. The global mix of attendees, including international stars, directors, and models, contributes to a diverse and eclectic range of styles on the red carpet. This diversity fosters a blend of different fashion influences and cultures, resulting in a richer and more varied display of fashion.

The festival has strong ties with luxury fashion houses such as Chanel, Dior, and Valentino and Saint Laurent, with the latter having several film production credits. These partnerships often lead to exclusive and bespoke creations tailored specifically for the event, elevating sartorial standards and introducing unique pieces that could set new trends.

Where the Met’s stairs have rendered many of its attendees immobile due to their extreme looks, often requiring assistants to carry or aid celebrities up its steps, the iconic staircase at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès offers a dramatic entrance that lends itself to spectacular photo opportunities. The ascent of the stairs has become a celebrated moment in itself, where fashion is displayed in full glory against the backdrop of enthusiastic photographers and the glittering Mediterranean.

Bella Hadid
Cannes Film Festival
Cate Blanchett
Haider Ackermann
Red carpet