From capes to plunging necklines, all the fashion fun of Cannes film festival

<span>Nicolas Seydoux arrives for the screening of Le Deuxieme Acte at the Cannes film festival.</span><span>Photograph: Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Nicolas Seydoux arrives for the screening of Le Deuxieme Acte at the Cannes film festival.Photograph: Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images

An unofficial fashion week, Cannes film festival has been turning the southern French city into one big photo opportunity this week.

Always considered the most fashionable of all the film festivals, the connection was confirmed this year: the relatively new film production division of the fashion house Saint Laurent will premiere three titles.

With mild weather and an unashamed zeal for pomp, it is an opportunity for many of the world’s most in-demand celebrities to walk the red carpet several times in a crescendo of operatic outfits. Because, while awards season red carpets and the Met Gala provide a mere night of glamour, Cannes provides a fortnight.

Related: ‘Bolder than ever’: Cannes fuses film and glamour in unofficial fashion week

Thanks to interview duties and press calls, as well as throngs of paparazzi outside hotels and nearby Nice airport, the festival also offers celebrities the chance to show off their daywear: the sunglasses, casual Breton tops, jeans and trainers.

And while the Croissette might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of inspiration for your own wardrobe this summer, it has been home to many relatable fashion moments too, from Kristen Stewart ditching her heels and going barefoot in 2018 to Jennifer Lawrence in flip-flops last year.

With aspiration plus relatability, comes inspiration. As the fashion writer Vanessa Friedman once put it: “The opening ceremony is the equivalent of Pavlov’s bell: it sounds, and we start to dress.” It was, after all, at Cannes that Jane Birkin launched decades’ worth of basket-bags, now a summer perennial.

With week one well under way, here’s what has stood out sartorially so far, what might trickle down and what might stay on the riviera.


Brazen and larger-than-life, the cape is, crucially, not a train, which is the more common way to telegraph drama on the red carpet. From Helena Christensen looking like a Tolkienian princess in Vivienne Westwood to the French producer and executive Nicolas Seydoux in pink florals, stars at this year’s festival have been wearing capes that were either brilliantly daft or elegant and embellished. Jane Fonda even shoulder-robed, in effect making her coat a cape. The opportunity to be photographed like a superhero makes for good old-fashioned red carpet spectacle.


While there doesn’t yet appear to have been loads of vintage fashion on the red carpet, this archival look merits mention. At the premiere of Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, the supermodel Naomi Campbell wore a Chanel couture dress that she had originally worn for the Chanel haute couture show in 1996, styled by the celebrity stylist Law Roach. Having your own back catalogue to draw on is a serious leg-up at a time when vintage hunters are increasingly being called upon to find obscure looks from fashion’s annals for such events.


In terms of noteworthy daywear, hats ruled, not least Anya Taylor-Joy’s pizza-sized Jacquemus straw hat, ideal for neck shade. Meryl Streep against a backdrop of palm fronds in a white suit, striped shirt and sunhat is the perfect summer 2024 inspiration. And the French singer and model Yseult showed how a well-chosen hat can be the perfect foil for the makeup-melting Mediterranean sun – statement fan optional.

Menswear as womenswear

Traditional gender boundaries in fashion have thankfully been liquefying, and women in suits – ditto men in nail polish and skirts – is no big deal, if ever it was. Nevertheless, it’s still notable that a few names chose to wear suits that seemed to ignore preconceived notions of what a women’s suit should look like, including the Lebanese director Nadine Labaki in a bowtie and the French actor Emmanuelle Béart, president of the Camera D’Or jury, who wore a Paul Smith suit complete with a nonchalantly wonky tie. Perfect inspiration for wedding guest wear this summer.

Extreme sweetheart necklines

From the actor Elsa Pataky and Greta Gerwig in Armani Privé to the French model and former Miss France Maëva Coucke, the coy, butter-wouldn’t-melt sweetheart neckline, its place in art history secured by John Singer Sargent’s 1883-4 portrait of Madame X, has been turning up the mercury this week. Not content to dip just a little, celebrities have been wearing sweethearts that graze the bellybutton. It has also, in line with a wider moment for garments part-Man Ray and part high-fashion, taken on a sculptural bent.

Discombobulating dressing

From the waist up, the suit of the French actor and comedian Omar Sy could have seemed bog standard, by the Cannes yardstick at least, but from the waist down the print is like a magic eye. The model Alton Mason looked like a beautiful walking static in his Louis Gabriel Nouchi suit. The Italian film director Roberto Minervini appeared almost pixelated. In our screen-soaked age, toying with the idea of visual representations, especially at one of the world’s most photographed and shared events, feels pleasingly playful.