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Style & Living Fashion

What to Wear to The Cannes Film Festival, The Most Formal Red Carpet of Them All

The glitzy festival does not mess around when it comes to dress code. 

By Adele Chapin
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We love the Oscars and the Met Gala, but there’s something unique about the red carpet at Cannes, which kicks off today. There’s the film festival’s ultra-glamorous setting on the French Riviera. Plus, this multi-day event is the perfect setting for stars to put together a string of remarkable outfits. Remember Blake Lively’s over-the-top maternity looks or Kirsten Dunst’s retro Dior dresses last year?

Maybe there’s an intangible quality to Cannes as well. “The red carpet is vast,” super stylist Kate Young told Vanity Fair in 2015. “It’s vast, and there are stairs, and it’s like, sparkly Mediterranean light. And there’s something about that that’s grand and fabulous, that’s a little different from a narrow Hollywood red carpet that’s just off the street with tons of paparazzi around it. I think people get better pictures, and it feels more fabulous.”

Fabulousness aside, this might be one of the formal red carpets out there. The dress code for men is black ties, and bow ties are required — to the point that Uber started a bow-tie delivery service at the festival in 2016 for guests who were worried they might not get in without one.

Cannes officials will bar entry to those who violate the dress code. In 2015, female Cannes guests complained on social media that they were turned away from screenings for not wearing high heels. That sparked a controversy over flats and sexism and stars like Kristen Stewart and Emily Blunt weighed in. Emily said: “Everyone should wear flats, to be honest. We shouldn't wear high heels anyway. I prefer wearing Converse sneakers.” Julia Roberts, baller that she is, decided to go barefoot with a toe ring on the red carpet in 2016.

Julianne killing it in @givenchyofficial @riccardotisci17 @lamarquisette @chopard #Cannes

A post shared by Lesliefremar (@lesliefremar) on

Hey, the rules are meant to be broken, right? For celeb stylists, despite the formality, this festival is one place where stars can take a fashion risk and be less worried about the “worst dressed” lists.

“Cannes is a place where a stylist can have fun. The European sensibility is a little more forgiving and not as conservative. For me, it’s a place where I can try different things and just be experimental and avant garde and just go for it,” Leslie Fremar, stylist to Charlize Theron and Julianne Moore, told the Hollywood Reporter in 2016. Can’t wait to see what fantastical dresses will hit the red carpet this week!

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