Cannes shoe flap sparks latest gender row in Hollywood

20 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Aussies Cate Blanchett and Megan Gale bring the glamour at Cannes.

Displaying some cleavage in a daring black dress, Blanchett made her second appearance at this years Cannes, after previously walking the red carpet for her film Carol on Sunday. CANNES, France – The Cannes Film Festival is coming under scrutiny for its strict dress code after women not wearing high heels were turned away from a premiere.Many are criticising the festival after Screen International reported that several middle-aged women were refused entry to Sunday’s premiere of Todd Haynes’ 1950s lesbian romance Carol for wearing flats. “Everyone should wear flats, to be honest, at the best of times” said Blunt, who was there to premiere the Mexican drug war thriller Sicario. “You kind of think that there’s these new waves of equality.” Director Denis Villeneuve joked that he and his male stars, Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin, would wear heels to the evening premiere of Sicario in protest. Last year’s Golden Globes saw British actress Emma Thompson storm the stage barefoot, her Christian Louboutin stilettos in one hand and a dirty martini in the other.

Calvin Klein’s elegant evening was set this year at a stately hilltop villa and celebrated a quintet of incredible actresses—Weisz, Isabelle Huppert, Mélanie Laurent, Emily Blunt, and Sienna Miller. Missing the Cannes Mad Max: Fury Road screening last week, she instead opted to stay true to her Aussie fans by attending the Australian premiere at the Sydney Opera House. She flashed Louboutin’s trademark red-lacquered soles at an amused audience, clutching her heels indignantly. “My blood,” she slurred, then lobbed the shoes overhead before announcing the award for best screenplay. Guests, who also included jury member Jake Gyllenhaal, mixed amongst champagne servers and seafood platters on the sprawling terrace and inside, near the indoor waterfall.

Thompson’s antics provoked genuine laughter—the rarest of things at Hollywood awards shows—along with cheers from her female comrades who had stuffed their feet into precipitously high heels that night. The dress code isn’t explicitly spelled out by the festival but is enforced by security guards or “hosts.” “There is no specific mention about the height of the women’s heels as well as for men’s,” Aime said of Cannes’ dress code. “Thus, in order to make sure that this rule is respected, the festival’s hosts and hostesses were reminded of it.” “The rumour that the festival requires high heels for the women on the steps is baseless,” he wrote, referring to the entrance of the main Cannes venue. Elsewhere Monday night, Chopard hosted its annual bash, a gold-themed party, where the luxury jewelry brand transformed the interior of a warehouse to look like a gold mine, complete with seats fashioned into gold nuggets, working mine carts, and models circling the space in gold designer gowns. The Hollywood Reporter later said that “numerous women” had been turned away by the Cannes fashion police due to their foot attire, including one wearing “ankle boots and tights” and another who had slipped into “platform sandals”.

Earlier in the night, we asked Laurent, the French actress and festival veteran who has hosted the opening- and closing-night ceremonies, about the aforementioned surreal swirl at the festival. The dust-up is particularly awkward for Cannes because this year’s festival has been marked by considerable discussion about gender equality in the movie industry.

Actress Emily Blunt registered contempt for Cannes’ alleged heel mandate and a personal bias against the style. “We shouldn’t wear high heels anyway,” she said at a press conference before the premiere of her latest film, Sicario—at the after-party she reportedly changed into flats. She told us that the flashy, energetic atmosphere around some of the Cannes proceedings this year was not always the norm. “I think we are going a bit too crazy,” Laurent told us on Monday. “I remember 15 years ago, it was more charming. Still others reported footwear confrontations with overzealous security guards, who are enforcing a strict interpretation of the festival’s “black tie” dress code. Having frequently been accused of sexism in the past, Cannes responded this year by inviting two women filmmakers (out of 19) to the competition, opening the festival with Emmanuelle Bercot’s French drama “Standing Tall” and giving a honorary Palme d’Or to auteur Agnes Varda. As with any multi-national film festival, where deals are made and buzz is the coin of the realm, there’s a fine line to walk between glamour and excess.

Over the course of one week, we’ve seen adults get into heated arguments over who gets to take the next helicopter home from a party. (“This is like a valet line for rich assholes,” a fellow journalist deadpanned while watching.) We’ve overheard publicists debate which yacht party they would attend that evening. She stood her ground, but stopped short of making them count the four toes on her mangled left foot. “We are all working women who walk up and down the streets of Cannes all day doing business,” she told The Telegraph. “They cannot force us to wear heels.” From Chinese women teetering on foot-binding wedges to Marilyn Monroe wiggling in her stilettos, high heels have symbolized femininity, sex, power, and submission—sometimes all at once. We have, we confess, been poured champagne from a rapper’s $300 bottle while sitting in a villa that looked like it may have hosted a Bachelor hot-tub orgy. Our managing editor wears them to work regularly because they make her feel taller and emboldened. “I’m serious enough as is, so I like that heels can be playful,” she says.

And this was all on the Croisette, where electronic music is pumping at all hours. (Amy Poehler joked in an interview with us this afternoon that she would only do press if there was disco music playing throughout her interviews. “The only time it is quiet at Cannes is between 9 A.M. and noon when people finally sleep.”) It’s the stuff of sensory overload, no doubt. Writing in the anthology Fifty Shades of Feminism, Sandi Toksvig, the Danish writer and actress, argues that women “will never meet men on an equal footing … while they literally can’t stand up for themselves.” A friend who works at Google says she wears heels on dates and on interviews, but would feel silly traipsing around the office, where sneakers prevail. “I’d stick out like a sore thumb,” she tells me. “No one wears them here.” In a 2013 interview, Sarah Jessica Parker admitted that running in heels on the set of Sex and the City destroyed her feet. “I worked 18-hour days and never took them off,” she said. “I wore beautiful shoes, some made better than others, and never complained.” Her costar Kristin Davis (Charlotte) has said she feels guilty for the show’s glamorization of high heels. Elizabeth Olsen wore flat sandals to the 2011 festival premiere of Martha Marcy May Marlene. “By the end of the night, when I’m wearing heels at events, my feet feel like they’re sitting in pools of blood,” she later told Asos magazine. Other film festivals have certainly struggled to maintain the balance, like Sundance, the Robert Redford joint first imagined as a celebration of the indie spirit.

While the small-budget movies are still there, so are the branded lounges, celebrity D.J.s, and so many random sponsors and product placements that each invite reads like a marketing Mad Lib. Most of us who have ever spent an intoxicated evening wobbling around on high heels can recall waking up the next day to an apparent murder scene at the foot of the bed. Color us saps, but it seems an even stranger dichotomy at Cannes, a film festival that so reveres the old-school moviegoing experience that it prohibits selfies, hosts black-and-white screenings on the beach, and reportedly refuses men and women from premieres for not wearing, respectively, bow ties with their tuxes or high heels. The French may be able to maintain that tasteful old-school aesthetic on festival grounds—that is why Julianne Moore told us she so prefers the Cannes red carpet. “Nobody shouts, ‘What are you wearing?’ Nobody asks you to twirl.

And so to face down those overzealous officials (comfortable in their manly flat black dress shoes) we need just a few more bold statements of red carpet rebellion—Julianne Moore and Cate Blanchett, get your softest slippers out and start a revolution.

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