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Adorned backs and archival threads: Core trends at Cannes Film Festival

By Rachel Douglass


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Fashion |In Pictures

Uma Thurman wearing Burberry at the premiere of 'Oh Canada' at Cannes Film Festival. Credits: Burberry.

The red carpet on the famed steps of the Palais des Festivals has been rolled up for the year following the conclusion of this year’s Cannes Film Festival on Saturday. The event itself, which held its finale at a Closing Ceremony, took place from May 14 to 25, giving designers and stars alike ample opportunity to flaunt their most grandiose wares alongside the premiere of their varyingly anticipated projects.

The festival has become a destination for such spectacle as brands increasingly intertwine with the film industry, dipping their toes where they can in order to capture even just a small fraction of the market. The pursuit of such makes sense in the context of business and exposure, expanding the portfolio’s of some of fashion’s biggest names to ultimately connect with a vastly different audience.

For 19 years, Chanel, for example, has worked with Tribeca Festival on the Artists Awards Programme, an initiative supporting filmmakers and artists, the 2024 participants of which were named amid Cannes Film Festival. The French fashion house also supported the production of a number of films taking part in this year’s event, including Christophe Honoré’s Marcello Mio and Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis, with which the brand “accompanied” the film on the red carpet by dressing some of its central stars.

Kering is another to have firmly established a place among the filmmaking elite, hosting its own annual Women in Motion event highlighting womens’ contributions to the film industry. This year, the group’s Emerging Talent Award went to Malaysian filmmaker Amanda Nell Eu, who received the accolade during a dinner in Cannes.

It is one of Kering’s portfolio brands, however, that is arguably leading the way. Last year, Saint Laurent launched its own production studio, and now the luxury label was present at Cannes promoting three featured films, each of which were in competition for the official 2024 selection. The venture has provided creative director Anthony Vaccarello with an opportunity to handle the costumes for the productions as part of his efforts to “steer the brand into the future”.

Aside from new income avenues and opportunities to support creatives away from fashion, Cannes Film Festival acts as an extension of the already wrapped up awards season, keeping brands in the spotlight when the influx of red carpets at the beginning of the year begins to turn down. The event has become synonymous with statement-making glam, drawing in celebrities and personalities from across the globe formulating a more international perspective on high fashion trends. Here are just some that graced the Cannes red carpet.

Adorned backs

Bella Hadid wearing Dsquared and Chopard, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in Tom Ford and Eva Herzigova in Saint Laurent. Credits: (From left) Chopard, Tom Ford and Saint Laurent.

For many high calibre attendees, it was all about the back at this edition of Cannes Film Festival. While sparkly statement necklaces were still on hand, the fervour for glitter trailed into the backs of gowns, flowing down bare shoulder blades in typically subtle ornamentation. Saint Laurent’s look for Eva Herzigova, for example, saw the Czech model’s black silk dress contrast the three chain beading that draped down its open back. Bella Hadid, on the other hand, paired her Chopard jewellery with a 2006 Dsqaured dress with jewelled straps.

A different take on this trend was offered up by Cate Blanchett, whose minimalist panelled Jean Paul Gaultier look was elevated with the use of a shoulder necklace by Louis Vuitton, which was draped above the bust of the dress and shone with precious stones and repurposed metal.

Cate Blanchett in Haider Ackermann for Jean Paul Gaultier and Louis Vuitton High Jewellery. Credits: Louis Vuitton.

Black and white classics

Eva Green in Chanel, Taylor Hill in Messika and Balmain and Selena Gomez in Saint Laurent. Credits: (From left) Chanel, Messika and Saint Laurent.

Many celebs stuck to classic silhouettes for their own looks, however. Both model Taylor Hill and actress Selena Gomez, for example, went for figure-hugging off-shoulder pieces, both in contrasting black and white tones that made up the cross-over necklines. Similarly, French actress Eva Green opted for a gown from Chanel’s FW94 Haute Couture collection that also favoured the black and white colour palette, instead using the contrasting tones in a fitted velvet jacket and a white silk skirt.

Minimalist vest dresses

Livia Nunes in Yves Saint Laurent, Ines Rau in Saint Laurent and Elsa Hosk in Saint Laurent. Credits: (From left) Yves Saint Laurent and Saint Laurent.

Elevated simplicity appeared to continue into minimalistic black floor-length dresses, each in decidedly thin materials that fittingly encapsulated Cannes chic. It was, again, Saint Laurent that was behind the influx of this more casual take on red carpet glam, dressing many an ‘it’ girl in sleek designs, brought into the eveningwear spotlight through the use of dazzling jewellery.

Into the archives

Yseult in Dior, Bella Hadid in Chopard and Versace SS01 couture and Naomi Campbell in Chanel FW96 haute couture. Credits: (From left) Dior, Chopard and Chanel.

Vintage and vintage-inspired looks were seemingly the core theme of this year’s festival, with designers and their muses dipping into the archives of top associated fashion houses to inform their fits. Here, sequins were an apparent must. While Bella Hadid caused a stir in her corseted Versace SS01 look, model peer Naomi Campbell chose a tiered panel Chanel gown from the brand’s FW96 collection.

Taking a different approach to the idea of eras past, French singer Yseult turned heads when she appeared in a Dior creation that bore a resemblance to the brand’s iconic ‘New Look’ silhouette, which was famously definitive during its initial unveiling in the 50s. For Yseult’s iteration, the waist-cinching jacket and black pleated skirt were paired with a straw hat and leather gloves.

Modern day Renaissance

Livia Nunes in 1982 Christian Dior Haute Couture, Coco Rocha in Chaumet and Robert Wun and Louis Vuitton. Credits: (From left) @gersonlirio, Chaumet and Louis Vuitton.

Era defining looks played a big role in Cannes’ couture all round, in fact. Livia Nunes, for example, bore a piece that mirrored 18th century fashion, yet the look’s own age was that of vintage in itself, descending from a 1982 collection of Christian Dior. Similarly, Coco Rocha’s Robert Wun look merged historial elements such as corsetry into modern design features such as a trench-coat inspired skirt that flared out into pleated panelling.

Stevie Nicks-sheens

Valeria Golino in Dior, Charlotte le Bon in Chanel and Emma Stone in Louis Vuitton. Credits: (From left) Dior, Chanel and Louis Vuitton.

In contrast, albeit parallel to the penchant for foregone decades, an array of stars strayed towards gowns that appeared to reference the aesthetics of 70s icons. Crushed velvet was the linchpin of this apparent trend, as seen on Italian actress Valeria Golino, whose Dior dress mirrored none other than the era's core ‘it’ girl Stevie Nicks, complete with her signature beaded fringe sleeving. A similar iridescent sheen was present on the Louis Vuitton gown of two-time Oscar winner Emma Stone, with the ruffles and burgundy tone emphasised through the use of hand embroidery.

Golden girls

Sasha Pivovarova in Prada, Cate Blanchett in Louis Vuitton and Marina Foïs in Louis Vuitton. Credits: (From left) Prada, Louis Vuitton and Louis Vuitton.

Colour of the occasion, meanwhile, was that of bright gold, which stood proudly against the backdrop of crowds of press and the distinct carpet. Louis Vuitton once again captured the spotlight here, dressing Cate Blanchett in a honey gold cape dress with micro glass tubes highlighting the shoulders. A more subtle take on the awards-centric colour was worn by Sasha Pivovarova, whose gold satin Prada bandeau gown contrasted an oversized black bow that embellished the front.

Heavy on the sequins

Chloe Fineman in Celine by Hedi Slimane, Salma Hayek in Saint Laurent and Greta Gerwig in Saint Laurent. Credits: (From left) Celine, Saint Laurent and Saint Laurent.

In the same realm of overt sparkliness, sequins suitably continued their grasp on Hollywood’s elite, having already commanded attention at award ceremonies prior. Their reign continued at Cannes, where an abundance of simple yet sequin-heavy gowns graced the famed red carpet ahead of the anticipated films on show. From Chloe Fineman’s cherry red streamlined number to Saint Laurent’s strong shouldered cut out design for Greta Gerwig, there was no shortage of sparkle in the Cȏte D'azur.

Simple satins

Zhai Tao in Prada, Greta Gerwig in Prada and Uma Thurman in Burberry. Credits: (From left) Prada, Prada and Burberry.

A more polished yet similarly sleek red carpet classic was in the presence of strong satins, each typically donning metallic effects while maintaining classic silhouettes. While Uma Thurman’s ivory silk satin dress was styled under a floor-sweeping trench coat, evoking the signature codes of its creator Burberry, Greta Gerwig’s design took on an even more structured shape that streamed out from a draped off-shoulder neckline held together with crystal brooches.

Androgynous tailoring

Amy Jackson in Maje, Souheila Yacoub in Dior and Justine Triet in Louis Vuitton. Credits: (From left) Maje, Dior and Louis Vuitton.

As always, there were many attendees who decided to stray from the usually dress-centric dress code, instead exploring and redefining expectations through experimental tailoring. While some took this route via an androgynous approach, as bolstered by three-piece fits sported by Amy Jackson in Maje and Souheila Yacoub in Dior, others stuck to decidedly traditional shapes, largely backed by Saint Laurent, which brought to the carpet refreshed takes on tuxedos.

Emmanuelle B in Dior, Luisa Ranieri in Messika and Yves Saint Laurent and Anja Rubik in Saint Laurent. Credits: (From left) Dior, Saint Laurent and Saint Laurent.

Drama at the neckline

Candice Swanepoel in Chaumet and Vivienne Westwood, Paz Vega in Nicolás Jebran and Messika and Neelam Gill in Chopard Caroline's Couture. Credits: (From left) Chaumet, Messika and Chopard.

Cannes has become synonymous with fashionable drama, and where better to carry out such a feat than the neckline. This became the focal point of many a gown at various premieres, with designers creating sculptural silhouettes that only elevated those wearing the piece. Paz Vega led the way here, sporting a look by Nicolas Jebran that defied gravity through an oversized bow that extended out to create exaggerated proportions.

Powdery purples

Margaret Qualley in Chanel, Abbey Lee in Gucci and Diane Kruger in Tom Ford. Credits: (From left) Chanel, Gucci and Tom Ford.

A core colour this year could be defined as a ‘powdery purple’, a lilac that was as discrete as it was eye-catching. Its range was also expansive, featured on both fluffy floral designs, as that of Margaret Qualley’s SS24 Chanel midi, and gowns with polished Grecian flair, Diane Kruger’s Tom Ford draped piece being a fine example of such.

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