Home / Celebrity Style / Rebellious flats, grown-up party frocks and Lupita Nyong’o’s mojo: six things we learned from the Cannes 2015 red carpet

Rebellious flats, grown-up party frocks and Lupita Nyong’o’s mojo: six things we learned from the Cannes 2015 red carpet

1. When getting dressed, think: what would Imperator Furiosa do?

Goddess dressing is out; gladiator chic is in. With the launch of Mad Max: Fury Road happening in parallel to the festival proper, femininity – by way of Charlize Theron’s shaven-headed hero – got fierce at Cannes. Last week, we were the first to bring you the breaking news that the December release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens is having a red-carpet impact. Stormtrooper lookalikes Isabella Rossellini (in Stella McCartney) and Karlie Kloss (Versace) went straight on to our mood boards for Secret Cinema outings this summer. Meanwhile, at the Billboard Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday, Olivier Rousteing launched his Balmain x HM collection flanked by Jourdan Dunn and Kendall Jenner looking more armed-guard than arm candy; and the premiere of Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood video gave us tooled-up Victoria’s Secret models throwing punches and kicking in windows. Flexing your muscles is the new duckface. NB: Real-life tip! If machine guns and hotpants feels like a wardrobe stretch, try channelling Rachel Weisz on the Cannes red carpet, looking sleek in a black Narciso Rodriguez jumpsuit.

Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road Photograph: Moviestore/Rex Shutterstock/Moviestore/Rex Shutterstock

Karlie Kloss at the opening ceremony and premiere of La Tête Haute at the Cannes film festival 2015. Photograph: Gisela Schober/Getty Images

2. Some red-carpet rules are meant to be broken

First, Croisettiquette declared that selfies were banned on the red carpet. At that point, we were sort of on board, because selfies are a bit naff, even though it is a bit snooty and French and annoying of them to make a fussy old law about it. But then, on Saturday night, female guests were denied entry to the premiere of Carol, starring Cate Blanchett, because they were in flats. Festival organiser Thierry Frémaux has denied that there is a Cannes ban on flats. Good news, Monsieur Frémaux, because if there was, it would be (a) idiotic (b) wildly out of touch, in a season when exquisite flat shoes are a catwalk-approved chic eveningwear option and (c ) so clearly not What Cate Would Do. Last year, Blanchett wore flat gold sandals with a ruffled, floor-length Chloé white gown on the Women in Film red carpet, and looked awesome. So, postmodern caveat to these red-carpet fashion lessons: sometimes the red carpet gets it wrong.

A Valentino flat ballet shoe. Photograph: Valentino

3. Romance is dead (but floorlength is hot)

Happy news! Old Hollywood Glamour – undoubtedly the dullest, most spirit-crushingly regressive fashion trope of the modern era – is in retreat. Observers believe there is hope that within a few years it can be safely contained within the confines of the Academy Awards machine, dominating the Oscar red carpet year after boring year but without contaminating the wider world. Every red carpet has its brand, and the Venus-rising-out-of-organza-froth aesthetic, where every floorlength dress comes with an extra three feet of fabric at the hem, is what the Oscars does best. Cannes went for a more dynamic look: see Julianne Moore in crimson velvet-and-croc Givenchy, or Natalie Portman in crisp-cut, sharp-bodiced Dior. Both were full-length, but decidedly not ethereal. There is something pleasing about seeing a dress at a premiere that might give the wearer a small chance of being able to sit in a cinema seat, rather than one which makes it clear she is heading straight from the red carpet back to her hotel room.

Julianne Moore at the Max Max: Fury Road premiere at the Cannes film festival 2015. Photograph: AGF s.r.l./REX Shutterstock/AGF s.r.l./REX Shutterstock

4. Grown-up party frocks exist!

If every red carpet has its brand, then the Oscars is, as discussed, Trad Glam. The Met Gala – the one where Beyoncé and Kim basically showed up nude – is Minimum Fabric, Maximum Publicity. Youth-orientated music events such as the Billboards are Clothes You Can Only Wear When You Are Nineteen. (See: Rousteing and his Balmaination, as above.) Cannes, one of the oldest red carpet occasions of them all, has, as a result, found itself squeezed. This used to be where licentious dressing happened – from Bardot hoiking up her sundress to splash in the waves, to Madonna in Jean Paul Gaultier couture-lingerie in 1991 – but it’s really, really hard to compete with Beyoncé’s naked arse, so Cannes has had to find a new angle. Happily for us, it is gravitating towards thinking-woman’s-party-dress territory. For instance, this week saw two fabulous long-sleeved party dresses. These are really useful, in actual real life, but to observe the US red carpets you would think it was illegal for anyone under 60 to cover their arms. Emma Stone in Oscar de la Renta (long black lace sleeves, mid-thigh hemline) and Rooney Mara in white Alexander McQueen were among the week’s best looks.

Emma Stone at the Irrational Man photocall at the Cannes film festival 2015. Photograph: Anthony Harvey/FilmMagic,

5. Your Glastonbury look is sorted: something a bit gothic and braids in your hair

Gothic romance is having a moment. For evidence, look no further than the twin fairy-queens of boho, Sienna Miller and Poppy Delevingne, who both went dark and twisted-fairytale at Cannes. Miller, who was a juror this year, didn’t put a foot wrong sartorially, with a Cannes wardrobe that served as an unequivocal full stop at the end of one of 2015’s key fashion messages: Sienna Miller Is Totally a Thing Again. Her most directional look was for the Carol premiere, in black with a white lace collar, and a crown of braids. Poppy Delevingne moved on from her signature Chelsea-garden-party vibe to a more severe, darkly embellished Burberry dress, worn with a dramatic necklace and the same plaited hair. The look is a bit rebellious, faintly white-witch, and will totally work with wellies and a pint of cider. Job done.

Sienna Miller at the Carol premiere at the Cannes film festival 2015. Photograph: Venturelli/WireImage

6. Nyong’o has found her mojo

When you find a look that works for you: work it. That’s what Lupita Nyong’o has figured out. Her emerald-green Gucci gown, with knife-pleats cinched in a simple high waistband and deeply-plunging neckline (top), was a standout of this year’s Cannes red carpet. It was also remarkably similar to the pale blue Prada gown (with knife-pleats cinched in a simple high waistband and deeply plunging neckline) she wore to the Oscars in 2014. To bend the red-carpet might of Prada and Gucci to your own wishes in this way is seriously impressive. Nyong’o wins the red carpet, with a look that’s a lot more fierce than it first appears.

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