The last unexpected meme – otherwise it would not be a meme – of the summer has emerged from the image of Timothée Chalamet, Wes Anderson, Tilda Swinton and Bill Murray during the presentation at the 74th Cannes Film Festival of The French Dispatch, Anderson’s new movie. And the fault is the clothes. Or rather, the notorious lack of stylistic coordination between the team members. Chalamet showed up in jeans, boots, and a screen-printed T-shirt. Anderson, in a light suit and tie. Swinton, in a smart bright blue double-breasted suit. And Murray, in a short-sleeved shirt with a multicolored print, shorts, sneakers and a straw hat. Life itself: four seemingly incompatible choices that lend themselves to all sorts of comparisons –find your favorite on Twitter– and have fallen like rain in May on a public eager for humor, fashion and glamor without a mask.
Phenomena like these characterize the Cannes festival, an event that in turn brings together many more events: film premieres, opening and closing galas, parties and dinners organized by brands and fleeting races through the airport. In Cannes, everything is photographed and everything is susceptible to transcending the limits of that journalistic genre called the red carpet chronicle.
In the city of the Côte d’Azur, the most interesting is often where the clothing label is not enough. And this is not a new phenomenon: one of the foundational myths of the festival’s legend did not take place at an elegant reception, but on the secluded private beach of the Carlton Hotel. There, in 1953, Kirk Douglas braided the hair of a little-known but camera magnet performer who was about to become Brigitte Bardot, the most famous French actress of her generation.
This year, the events, red carpets, premieres and photocalls Cannes have left several remarkable images after a long year of pandemic. Some are sparkling and breathe that eccentric European glamor that characterizes a more free, relaxed and unorthodox red carpet than the American one. For example, Bella Hadid in a vertiginous Schiaparelli dress that, in a trompe l’oeil much to the taste of the historic Parisian brand today designed by Daniel Roseberry, superimposes a complicated necklace on the exposed chest that replicates the shape of the lung bronchi.
In the men’s sector, the impact has come from the hand of Timothée Chalamet with a metallic silk tuxedo in silver and gold signed by Tom Ford, a firm that shares with Chalamet the talent necessary to lavish just enough, disappear for a while and return in a coup capable of grabbing headlines.
Among the usual tuxedos in the evening premieres, those of Jon Kortajarena or the singer and actor Benjamin Biolay stand out: this is how a toupee is worn. Men who decide to wear a dark suit and a black shirt without a tie are gaining ground. This is what Pedro Almodóvar – faithful to his sunglasses – or Louis Garrel have decided.
Spike Lee’s commitment to color — Air Jordan shoes, fuchsia double-breasted tuxedo — is in dialogue with the sophisticated gestures of the Jordan Barrett and James Turlington models, the first in beige and the second in dark. Even the double-breasted Louis Vuitton tuxedo worn by Tahar Rahim advocates a less sophisticated sophistication than that dictated by the label. It may not sound like classic Hollywood, but it screams fashion, just like the repertoire with which Tilda Swinton has once again been crowned the queen of the conceptual imaginary.
The festival, of course, offers much more. There are actors who leave the boarding area of the airport – Brooklyn Beckham, François Civil de Fendi – setting an example of what fashion means in these times obsessed with the urban, the comfortable and the spontaneous. In the morning premieres, the Croisette is filled with eccentric suits, Hawaiian shirts, lots of sunglasses – on the Côte d’Azur the sun is hot these days – hats, shorts and light jackets.
After a year with hardly any social agenda, Cannes is a priceless showcase for the summer collections of luxury brands. And also the realization that, sometimes, the most interesting thing about red carpets is what happens outside of their codes.
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