Let's remind ourselves of last year's event.
Among the plethora of events which are being pushed back due to the coronavirus epidemic, Cannes' long-awaited film festival, originally due to run May 12-23, has been postponed indefinitely. Organisers are still floating the possibility that the 73rd edition of the famed event might take place later in the summer, but with France still in quarantine it's hard to know when the red carpet might be rolled out.
Elle Fanning at Cannes Film Festival 2019 / Photo Credit: Zhang Cheng/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images
Last year's edition of the festival, however, gave us more than enough glitz, glamour and gossip to tide us through until the crème de la crème of the film world descends on the Riviera once again.
On the fashion front, both gorgeous gowns and amazingly frumpy frocks graced the 2019 red carpet. The less said about Marion Cotillard's bizarre combination of a crop top, shorts and a baggy denim coat the better, while Ashlee Simpson's choice to wear a drastically oversized black and white checked dress over jeans was equally misguided.
Elle Fanning, on the other hand, had a particularly trendy set of looks. The American actress, the youngest member of last year's jury, was a vision of Old Hollywood at the premiere of Bill Murray's zombie horror film The Dead Don't Die. Fanning stunned in a peach Gucci gown with floral details and a floor-length attached cape. A simple updo, bright red lipstick and Chopard diamond earrings impeccably completed the look.
Fanning chose a cape-adorned dress yet again for the closing ceremony-this time a gauzy white Reem Acra gown from the designer's bridal range. The neckline of the delicate dress and the back of the cape were embellished with tiny gemstones and pearls which matched perfectly with the Chopard necklace and bracelet Fanning sported.
The 21-year-old actress saved perhaps her most iconic look of the 2019 festival for the premiere of Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. In keeping with the film's vintage theme, Fanning wore a striking Dior ensemble composed of an ivory organza blouse, a sweeping dark blue tulle skirt, and a broad-brimmed macramé hat. The outfit, which required some 450 hours of work-particularly on the skirt, which was painstakingly pieced together out of more than 50 metres of tulle-harkened back to the fashion house's famous New Look.
Fanning's fantastic fashion sense was a hard act for other celebrities to follow. Franco-Algerian lingerie designer Zahia Dehar nevertheless managed to draw attention both for her slinky backless dress with floral accents and for the cinematic twists and turns of her life story.
The starlet initially became famous ten years ago as an underage call-girl for members of the French national football team. She's since made a name for herself in the fashion world, launching a lingerie collection alongside legendary couturier Karl Lagerfeld, while her first major film, Une fille facile ("An Easy Girl"), won the 2019 Cannes Directors' Fortnight prize for best French-language picture.
Critics quickly highlighted the semi-autobiographical elements of the summer romance, itself set in Cannes. The ex-escort starred as sexually liberated Sofia, who seduces wealthy men including a Brazilian art dealer. An explosive exposé published in February suggested that art was closer to life than Cannes filmgoers suspected. Zahia apparently had her own paramour shaping her career behind the scenes: Swiss art dealer Yves Bouvier, best known for fielding lawsuits from former clients insisting that he defrauded them out of billions. According to one of the call girls Bouvier allegedly hired to liven up the sumptuous parties he hosted for his art world friends, 17-year-old Zahia quickly became the star of the evening-and Yves Bouvier's personal mistress.
Zahia Dehar and Yves Bouvier have both strenuously denied the reports of their liaison, but the My Fair Lady-style romance adds a fascinating coda to Zahia's eye-catching début at Cannes 2019. Indeed, Zahia's confident portrayal of female sexuality-both onscreen and in interviews on the Cannes red carpet-was particularly refreshing at an edition of the festival wracked with controversy over Abdellatif Kechiche's portrayal of women in his film Mektoub, My Love: Intermezzo.
The Tunisian-born director unanimously won the coveted Palme d'Or in 2013 for lesbian romance Blue is the Warmest Colour, but received a decidedly chillier reception at Cannes 2019. For one thing, Kechiche's reputation itself has taken a hit in the intervening years.
Shortly after Blue is the Warmest Colour triumphed at Cannes, lead actresses Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos denounced the director's on-set behaviour, proclaiming that they would never work with him again after he humiliated them and forbid them from seeing their families while filming.
The director's callous response to the reports that he mistreated his lead actresses didn't help matters: "If Seydoux lived such a bad experience, why did she come to Cannes, try on robes and jewellery all day?". Nor did the sexual assault charges filed against Kechiche by an unknown woman in October 2018.
The scandal surrounding his entry at Cannes last year, however, was also about the movie itself. The four-hour film was raked over the coals, with critics deeming it "an almost unwatchable lech fest", "its own kind of hell", and "one of the worst films to have ever screened at Cannes". After journalists walked out of the Cannes screening-which a number of the film's actors did not attend-Kechiche himself chose to make a dramatic exit, grabbing a microphone and declaring "I apologise I kept you and now I'm off".
Until a new date for the 2020 edition of the Cannes film festival is set, 2019 certainly gave us enough to hold us over. It's a sure bet that, whenever Cannes is finally held again, it'll have more enchanting couture and tantalizing gossip in stock.
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