If one event showcases fashion on the world stage, it’s the Cannes Film Festival. Throughout its 73-year history, the festival, which was scheduled to begin this week only to be postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis, draws celebrities from across the globe and allows them to share their most artistic creative output. The lineup of boundary-pushing movies is matched only by the audacity of the red carpet where stars compete for attention in couture looks and strut in unapologetically risqué pieces from the runways. The Oscars may have earned their reputation for glamour, but Cannes is all about glitz. Despite the archaic dress code that requires men in tuxedos and women in high heels, anything goes—as long as it can capture the paparazzi’s attention.
In the past, Cannes queens were paragons of European cinema—nothing beats Catherine Deneuve waltzing up the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès steps in head-to-toe Yves Saint Laurent, and Isabelle Huppert delights year after year. The current list has expanded to include women from all facets of the entertainment industry and corners of the globe. There are the jet-setting models (Bella Hadid sizzles whether she’s wearing archival Cavalli or brand new Dior) and the Bollywood legends (Deepika Padukone consistently raises the bar for big gowns with help from Giambattista Valli and Peter Dundas). Millennial starlets too have brought new vigor to the proceedings (thank you Kristen Stewart!), breaking the rules and the internet with their style.
Here, a primer on the festival’s current queens and their groundbreaking looks.