Cannes Was Getting It Right - Until It Got It So Wrong

Flat shoes are a feminist issue, says Rebecca Lowthorpe


Picture the scene on Sunday night on the croisette’s red carpet in Cannes. A group of fiftysomething women were turned away from the screening of Todd Haynes’ competition entry Carol – ironically, a film billed as a feminist lesbian melodrama. Why? They weren’t wearing high heels.


Let’s be clear, they weren’t wearing flip-flops either, but ‘rhinestone flats’, as in fancy flat shoes befitting, you would assume, the glamour of the event. But no, the festival doesn’t deem flats – rhinestoned or diamonded for that matter – worthy of its red carpet, telling Screen International that it is obligatory for all women to wear high heels to red carpet screenings. Cue howls of disbelief.


As for the other ‘red carpet’ events this season – yes, even the hackneyed term ‘red carpet’ needs rebranding – the global photo-op coupled with ‘Instagram-me’ desperation was prompting some absolute howlers in the costume department – costume being the operative word. Outfits pinballed from panto to, well, a rather sad amount of nakedness, save for the odd cluster of strategically arranged crystal.

But back to Cannes for the last shout. If it hadn’t been for the ridiculous rhinestone flat debacle, I would have been writing about how much more seriously fashionable its red carpet is. Sure, there are the usual big gowns and heels (because big gowns are hard to wear without heels) but they came in a single swipe of fierce colour, see Charlize in sulphuric yellow Dior and Lupita in luminous green Gucci.

Then Emma Stone nailed it in modernist ivory Dior couture lace and Diane Kruger gained stratospheric fashion cred in Miuccia Prada’s molecular print, straight off the autumn / winter 2015 runway. Giles Deacon’s finale dress also made it onto the back of Cate Blanchett and Julianne Moore floored pretty much everyone in deep blood red velvet Givenchy… Blood red, possibly the shade of the carpet at Cannes 2016 if the festival head honchos don’t get with the current feminist fashion groove.

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