Forget the alarmist, headline-worthy-yet-somehow-boilerplate Met Gala: when it comes to setting the global fashion standard, the Cannes Film Festival is where it’s at.
We’ve rounded up the best of the 2022 festivities for you, and while the designs were all over the place, the common thread amongst the winners was true character. Anyone can throw on a designer ensemble, but it’s the qualities of the wearer that turn a a good look into a true standout.
Still firmly bathed in the afterglow of her Academy Award-nominated turn as Princess Diana in Spencer, Kristen Stewart, present at Cannes to promote Canadian auteur David Cronenberg’s Crimes of the Future, seems exactly as thrilled to be in such a potent artistic groove as she should be. Stewart has a longstanding, oft-knocked partnership with Chanel, and detractors have decried the “boring” looks the actress is contractually bound to select. But Stewart’s red quilted Cannes suit shows you exactly why the collaboration works. Chanel’s tweedy tailoring, clean lines and stuffy flourishes are all wrong for her, a typical LA girl if ever there was one, and that’s exactly what gives the collaboration its frisson. Unbuttoning her jacket to the waist to reveal a bare chest, Stewart aired out Chanel’s cobwebs.
I didn’t know who Yseult was until I Googled her (she’s a French model and singer-songwriter), but such is the power of fashion: one glance at her chosen Cannes ensemble—a formidably glamorous, white Schiaparelli coat with conical bra details, plus a torso-shaped handbag and black boots with gold, bare human toes—told me everything I needed to know about the person with enough gumption to rock this look. She’s daring, detail-oriented and wields her impeccable taste like a mercenary weapon. In other words, my kind of girl.
And now for something completely different. I have a soft spot for Lori Harvey, an entrepreneur and Instagram baddie who happens to be the adopted daughter of Family Feud host and Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man author Steve Harvey. Lori is often visibly horny online alongside her boyfriend, the very gorgeous (and very kind, I met him once) actor Michael B. Jordan, and Mr. Harvey is often called upon to express his paternal discomfort with their whole thing on daytime TV. It’s very funny. Anyway, Lori’s Cannes dress was fucking gorgeous; she’s Belle in Beauty and the Beast, resplendent on the French Riviera. I stan.
Nowadays, when you think Balenciaga, it’s likely that images of Kim Kardashian and Julia Fox decked out in sculptural denim or branded caution tape spring to mind, but it’s the brilliant French actress Isabelle Huppert who’s currently towering over New York City on Balenciaga billboards.
At Cannes, Huppert appeared in a glove-like, jade green Demna creation that covered every inch of her body below the neck, but expertly showcased her petite frame and set off her signature red hair. Huppert happens to be my favorite actress due to her exceptional and demonstrative bravery; it’s hard to imagine an American performer tackling a role as subversive, disturbing and frankly erotic as the one she owned in Paul Verhoeven’s Elle. It’s delightful that Huppert’s red carpet choices reflect her taste for pushing boundaries.
Spanish actress Rossy de Palma is hardly a household name, but the performer, who frequently appears in auteur Pedro Almodovar’s films, is heading the Camera d’Or jury at this year’s festival. In keeping with the authority such an assignment bestows, de Palma earned the respect of persnickety fashion critics with a regal, sweeping Schiaparelli cape accented with abstracted white designs. (Schiaparelli again! They’re really having a moment.) There’s something refreshingly adult about this choice: de Palma looks relaxed, even bearing the weight of enormous gold earrings, as though she’s got absolutely nothing to prove.
Insider dubbed Rebecca Hall’s candy-hued Gucci dress a “busy gown...reminiscent of a professional gymnastics costume,” but Insider couldn’t be more wrong; Hall’s confident swerve into Moulin Rouge-chic territory is balanced by the garment’s contained proportions, considered details (feathered cuffs) and a winning red lip. The overall effect teeters on the edge of too much, but Hall, the daughter of brilliant opera diva Maria Ewing, has heightened dramatics hardwired in her DNA.
Menswear has traveled leaps and bounds in recent years, with daring stars like Harry Styles embracing dresses and louche accessories and more conventional leading men making earnest efforts to at least spice up their suits a bit. Cannes dressing is high-stakes and intimidating, a state of affairs that makes French actor Omar Sy’s crisp, short-sleeved Prada button down all the more welcome. As deceptively low-key as it seems, the flower-patterned shirt would outshine a wearer with less stage presence, but Sy looks utterly comfortable and centered. He’s the sexy dad you spot on vacation taking a twilight stroll on the beach, cigar in hand.
I loved Meryem Sarah Uzerli’s periwinkle blue confection, which takes cap sleeves to their logical conclusion: the dress makes the actress look like a fairy princess, or a butterfly, while the smart purple sash lends the look a sense of sensibility. It’s a youthful choice with a welcome dose of romantic fantasy.
It’s simply criminal that Adele Exarchopoulos, who has my vote for the most beautiful woman in the world, hasn’t appeared in more widely-known films since her astonishing star turn in 2013’s Blue is the Warmest Color, Abdellatif Kechiche’s epic queer romance. Like Kristen Stewart, the French actress has the ability to make you hone in on her every twitch, furtive glance and muttered expletive while she’s onscreen, and for Cannes, Exarchopoulos led with a creamy Fendi bustier top and matching pants, her hair sliced into a cropped brunette bob. This isn’t a woman who needs layers of pastel tulle to get, or keep, your attention. Her magnetism is utterly innate.
Tom Cruise is pushing 60, but in his later years, the beloved star has proven over and over again that he’s a lasting, formidable box office draw with a genuine passion for awing audiences with spectacular cinema fare. Cruise’s deranged stunt work is the stuff of legend, and in keeping with his action hero status, the lead of both the Top Gun and Mission: Impossible franchises walked the Cannes carpet in a truly impeccable Armani tuxedo that toed the line between navy and black. James Bond would seethe with envy. The tailoring is just so, but it’s the little details that make the outfit sing; a crisp, ivory pocket square and full-bodied black bow tie perfectly accessorize a man who needs no introduction.
Bella Hadid rules. The supermodel seems to work constantly, but rarely misses an opportunity to speak out about issues that trouble her; earlier this year, Hadid accused Instagram of blocking her posts decrying turmoil in Palestine. Hadid’s embodiment of high glamour is as acute as her burgeoning political consciousness, and at Cannes, the model pulled a white Gucci dress from the Tom Ford era; the fall 1996 collection, to be exact. This dress is relentlessly hunted on the resale market, and it’s easy to see why: long-sleeved and floor-sweeping, its one accent is a modest circular cutout at the waist, emphasized with a gold buckle. Hadid always looks fabulous, but she really nailed it here.
Kylie Minogue, patron saint of timeless bops, is criminally underrated in all areas, but the Australian pop icon never stops coming up with new reasons for you to love her. At Cannes, the 53-year-old musician popped up in a sheer Versace corset number and elegant green jewels, handily out-dressing a gaggle of starlets half her age.
You’ve probably seen the deluge of viral tweets by now, but if you’re living under a rock or lack a Spectrum account, I’ll catch you up. Sheathed in a Armani Privé column dress blooming with voluminous, ribbon-like sleeves, Anne Hathaway bewitched the world at Cannes, radiating the kind of incandescent beauty stylists and PR reps have fever dreams about.
Hathaway is never not lovely, but beaming on the red carpet dressed in white she looked truly angelic; Audrey Hepburn’s delicate radiance is probably the only comparison that makes sense. And seriously, check the data: hundreds of thousands of people were absolutely gobsmacked by what they were seeing.
Because true beauty is generous, Hathaway followed up with a mod, beaded Gucci minidress and bejeweled Bulgari Serpenti wristwatch, her hair swept back in a half-beehive style. She’s clearly having the time of her life.
And at the risk of sounding unhinged (whatever, I probably am), once Hathaway rounded things out with a hot pink Valentino jumpsuit, she’d sealed it: these looks deserve their place in history among the greatest celebrity fashion moments of all time. Anyone can knock down a killer red carpet choice every once in a while, but Anne, bless her, churned out three in a row, back to back in quick succession like it was nothing, while murdering every detail and stunning the Cannes crowd.
Roll your eyes all you want, but the world feels horribly dark, depraved, cruel and unrelenting at the moment. It’s felt that way for a while. Beauty is a balm, its presence inspires and soothes, and Hathaway came through. She didn’t have to go so hard, but she did it for us.