Cannes Film Festival: 75 years of era-defining fashion
Feature · fashion
Cannes Film Festival: 75 years of era-defining fashion
As the world’s most glamorous film festival celebrates its 75th anniversary, take a look back at decades of red carpet highlights.
This year, the Cannes Film Festival celebrates its 75th anniversary. It is one of the most glamorous events in the world with a red carpet that has been graced by many a style icon over the decades, from Brigitte Bardot to Princess Diana.
In front of a sea of cameras, fashion trends have been forged and fashion history made on the Cannes red carpet — such as when in 1991 Madonna walked in the now-renowned Jean Paul Gaultier cone bra, setting off the underwear as outerwear look for years to come — and wardrobe malfunctions are immortalized. In 1997, while attending the festival’s screening of sci-fi cult classic “The Fifth Element,” lead actress Milla Jovovich was reportedly sewn back into her beaded loincloth while still on the red carpet. Nothing is too big, like the bizarre biscuit tray dress of 2013, or too daring, like Eva Herzigova’s risque lace gown in 2008, for Cannes.
The spirit of the extravaganza has carried through to the present day, and there has been no shortage of show-stopping fashion moments. From Dame Helen Mirren debuting a bubblegum-pink pixie crop in 2019 to Bella Hadid’s sculptural necklace and couture ball gown by Schiaparelli in 2021, scroll for a definitive look back at the festival’s most memorable fashion moments.
Since its inception in 1947, Cannes Film Festival has always been as much about the fashion as the films. Over seven decades the Cannes carpet has seen its fair share of both fashion faux pas and phenomenons, the highlights of which are documented here; starting with Sophia Loren. One of the early aficionados of Cannes glamor, the Houseboat actress attended the eighth festival in this nautical ensemble. Her simple pleats and modest white heels are a far cry from today’s lavish outfits. Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Film star Brigitte Bardot eschews footwear altogether and runs barefoot on a beach in Cannes during the 1956 festival, where “The Silent World” by Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Louis Malle won the Palme d’Or. Credit: George W. Hales/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Cigarettes and bow ties were the height of fashion in the 50s. American actor Gary Cooper (left) talks to French actor Jean Marais (right) during the Cannes Film Festival in 1953. Credit: AFP/Getty Images
Elizabeth Taylor swaddles herself in white for the 1957 festival, accessorizing with a modest crown and her third husband, producer Mike Todd. Credit: Dalmas/SIPA/AP
French actress Catherine Deneuve greets her fans in white gloves and sequins at the 1966 Cannes Film Festival. Credit: Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Vanessa Redgrave sports an intricate two piece as she’s photographed with Italian actor Franco Nero at the premiere of her film “Blow Up” in 1967. Credit: Gilbert Tourte/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images
Away from the hustle and bustle of the red carpet Jane Birkin relaxes on the beach with her lover, French singer-songwriter Serge Gainsbourg. Credit: Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida contrasts a demure powder blue suit with racy lace on top at Cannes in 1972. Credit: AFP/Getty Images
Grace Kelly poses with director Alfred Hitchcock during the 1972 Cannes Film Festival. Credit: Pat Morin/RDA/Everett Collection
Swedish American actress Ann Margret rides around the streets of Cannes in all white during a photo call in 1975. Margret used her backcombed hair and white leather boots to promote British film director Ken Russell’s musical film “Tommy” in which she played Nora Walker. Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP/Getty Images
French actress Brigitte Fossey arrives at the 1977 film festival in long checked dress with lace detailing and a provincial straw hat. Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP/Getty Images
David Bowie at the 31th Cannes Film Festival in 1978. Credit: Ralph GattiAFP/Getty Images
Elizabeth Taylor attends the 40th Cannes Film Festival in 1987 in a red Nolan Miller gown. Credit: Dominique Faget/AFP/Getty Images
Monochrome pair French singer Sylvie Vartan, one of the most productive yé-yé artists, and her husband American producer Tony Scotti arrive in style at the Cannes festival in 1987. Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP/Getty Images
Princess Diana arrives at the Cannes Film Festival in 1987. The dress, by one of her favorite designers Catherine Walker, sold at auction for around $137, 000 in 2011. Credit: Tim Graham Photo Library/Getty Images
The ’90s saw a change in tack for red carpet attendees. Madonna kicked off the trend by wearing her Jean-Paul Gaultier underwear as outerwear at the screening of her movie “In Bed with Madonna” in 1991. Credit: Gilbert Tourte/AP
Sharon Stone created an iconic Cannes moment in 1995 by unceremoniously opening up her Valentino gown to reveal a sequin playsuit, as she arrived at the screening of Doublas Keeve’s aptly named film “Unzipped.” Credit: Alan Davidson/Shutterstock
For the 1997 screening of sci-fi cult classic “The Fifth Element,” Milla Jovovich stunned on-lookers in this futuristic gold embellished look Jean Paul Gaultier. Credit: Fitzroy Barrett/ZUMA
Winona Ryder at the 51st Cannes film festival in 1998 wearing a purple organza dress. Credit: Shutterstock
Ramzy Bedia and Eric Judor aka the French comedic duo Eric et Ramzy joke with the Bond girls upon arrival at the Palais des Festivals before the screening of the film “La Petite Lili” by French director Claude Miller during the Cannes film festival in 2003. Credit: Boris Horvat/AFP/Getty Images
Cate Blanchett honoured designer Alexander McQueen by wearing this monochrome dress from his pre-fall 2010 collection. Credit: Matt Sayles/AP
Naomi Campbell lit up the red carpet in this discoball of a dress by Robert Cavalli, as she arrived for the screening of “Biutiful” in 2010. Credit: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images
A detail of Naomi Campbell’s bracelet and clutch. Credit: Ian Gavan/Getty Images
Eva Longoria arrives for the opening ceremony of the 65th Cannes film festival in Marchesa. Credit: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images
In 2013 two guests put the celebrities to shame with their striking outfits. The first was this sunflower inspired gown worn at the “Zulu” premiere and closing ceremony during the 66th Annual Cannes Film Festival 2013. Credit: Regis Duvignau/Reuters
The second guest who relegated the celebrities to mere mortal status wore a dress made of biscuit trays to the screening of “The Past” at the 66th edition of the Cannes Film Festival. Credit: Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images
Freida Pinto chose this Oscar de la Renta gown to walk the red carpet for the “The Homesman” premiere in 2014. Credit: James Mccauley/Shutterstock
Actress Lupita Nyong’o wore a dramatic mint Gucci gown to the opening ceremony and screening of “La Tête Haute” in 2015.
Credit: Loic Venance/AFP/Getty Images
For the premiere of “The Last Face” in 2016, Charlize Theron donned an ultra-sophisticated Dior tuxedo with an unbuttoned white shirt. Credit: Eric Gaillard/Reuters
In 2017, Elle Fanning arrived in an ethereal sage-hued Gucci dress with embellished silver leaves and chiffon flowers bursting from the hem-line. Credit: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images
Chinese supermodel and actress, Sui He, wore a strapless Ralph & Russo couture ball gown complete with 3D printed flowers to the screening of “Sorry Angel (Plaire, Aimer Et Courir Vite)” in 2018. Credit: Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters
Dame Helen Mirren debuted a baby pink coiffure at the 2019 Cannes red carpet for “Les Plus Belles Annees D”Une Vie.” She paired her new look with a gilded Elie Saab couture off-the-shoulder dress. Credit: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images
Isabelle Huppert’s sleek, all-black Balenciaga look for the 2021 premiere of “Everything Went Fine” was a masterclass in sophisticated glamour. Credit: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images
Bella Hadid made headlines in 2021 with a Cannes red carpet look that was hot off the runway. Her mesmeric Schiaparelli couture gown included a set of golden lungs. Credit: Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images
Also in 2021, director Spike Lee was unmissable in an entirely hot pink Louis Vuitton suit. Credit: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images for Kering
Top image: Czech model Eva Herzigova at the 61st Cannes International Film Festival in 2008.