Ac­tivism, fash­ion and em­pow­er­ment at Cannes

ZOOMER Magazine - - CONTENTS - By Leanne De­lap

ON THE CROISETTE red car­pet, there is still an out­dated dress code rule that women shall not wear flat shoes. Chanel-ap­proved ac­tor Kris­ten Ste­wart very de­lib­er­ately re­moved her sky-high pumps and walked bare­foot in silent protest.

The world’s lead­ing women at the Cannes film fes­ti­val were united in push­ing the bound­aries of what is beau­ti­ful and what is sexy – the tra­di­tional rules of glam­our – for all ages. In fact, the fash­ion shift that real- ly spoke vol­umes was the num­ber of women wear­ing pantsuits as for­mal­wear this year, a chic and loaded state­ment.

The pres­i­dent of the ma­jor­ity-fe­male jury this year was 49-yearold fash­ion icon Cate Blanchett. She busted out a flurry of pantsuit looks for the flash­bulbs, in­clud­ing a pale pink suit by Stella McCart­ney. Ear­lier in the week, she also wore a sporty le­mon-coloured Calvin Klein suit with ath­letic stripes down the leg.

She was flanked by fel­low jury

mem­bers Ste­wart (in a cropped blue Chanel nubby tweed pantsuit) and French star Léa Sey­doux in a sharp green trouser suit by Louis Vuit­ton. An­other stand­out pantsuit look on the Riviera was the Ar­mani black one worn by Bol­ly­wood royal Aish­warya Rai Bachchan, who is 44.

Fash­ion has be­come a state­ment-mak­ing tool for Hol­ly­wood women and fe­male ac­tors the world over to de­clare Time’s Up and Me Too. From the fe­male stars who near-unan­i­mously wore all black at the Golden Globes to the sin­gle white rose car­ried by fe­male Grammy stars, fash­ion has made a pow­er­ful state­ment.

Of course, Hil­lary Clin­ton wore a sym­bolic white pantsuit to ac­cept her ground­break­ing Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion. And later, Me­la­nia Trump wore a ver­sion of the same at her hus­band’s State of the Union ad­dress, amid the first stir­rings of the porn star af­fair scan­dal. White, in both cases, was seen to sig­nal the white fab­ric of the early 20th-cen­tury in­ter­na­tional suffragette move­ment. And the pantsuit, Clin­ton’s ca­reer-long sig­na­ture, al­ways evokes the heady em­pow­er­ment of the Women’s Lib­bers of the ’70s.

Fit­tingly, the last word on lib­er­ated fash­ion at Cannes comes from a woman who lit­er­ally em­bod­ied protest in 1970s: Jane Fonda, who re­cently turned 80. The ac­tress had a very glitzy week at the movie com­pe­ti­tion on the Riviera this year, with her clothes, her words and her ac­tions. As Van­ity Fair put it, Fonda is hav­ing “an ex­cep­tion­ally fash­ion­able Cannes.” She rocked a long beaded Valentino with a duster coat one night and then did a quick change to flash a di­a­mond-belt-

ed custom Al­berta Fer­retti suit – in that sym­bolic white – for a Trophée Chopard event.

She was clear about her loy­al­ties and pri­or­i­ties as she ar­rived in the French city wear­ing jeans and a Times Up T-shirt. The forth­right celebrity also re­cently made waves on the promo tour for her new gal­pal rom-com Book Club, which is about the im­por­tance of friend­ship and sex in ma­ture women’s lives. She can­didly de­clared that while to each her own, she her­self no longer has sex, with the no-bones state­ment: “I’ve closed up shop down there.”

He­len Mir­ren, an­other thes­pian noted for her time­less beauty and fash­ion sense, as well as her no-bull­shit at­ti­tude, also made a splash on the Mediter­ranean. She lost a shoe (the theme con­tin­ues) when she fell – as she put it “ass over tits” – to face­plant on the red car­pet. She went on to make fun of both her­self and the hoopla and to praise stunt ac­tors. She also re­vealed that once when “very drunk” she got a tat­too, which it­self has a lovely back story, ap­pli­ca­ble to the theme at play at Cannes. The in­ter­twined VVs on her hand, done with a safety pin, to sym­bol­ize “equal and op­po­site,” or the idea that peo­ple can be very dif­fer­ent from you but have the same value as your­self. The racy-but-poignant ad­mis­sion took place at a L’Oréal Worth It event: like Fonda, the 72-year-old is one of the beauty megabrand’s am­bas­sadors; L’Oréal is also an of­fi­cial spon­sor of the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val.

But the most pow­er­ful mo­ments were silent ones. Such as the red­car­pet protest by 16 in­ter­na­tional black fe­male ac­tors, which high­lighted the lack of di­ver­sity in French film. It was led by 43-yearold Sene­galese ac­tress Aïssa Maïga and 58-year-old Bu­run­dian singer Khadja Nin, who is a judge on this year’s jury. An­other was a march by a di­verse group of 82 ac­tresses, in­clud­ing Fonda, Salma Hayek and Mar­ion Cotil­lard, who linked arms on the red car­pet and walked in si­lence, paus­ing mid­way up the steps of the Palais des Fes­ti­vals to sig­nify the chal­lenges women face in the in­dus­try. The num­ber was de­lib­er­ate, as only 82 fe­male di­rec­tors have been in­vited to show their films over the fes­ti­val’s 71 years. That com­pares to 1,645 male di­rec­tors. After the demon­stra­tion, Blanchett and Agnès Varda, the diminu­tive, witty 90-year-old Bel­gian di­rec­tor read a mes­sage call­ing for in­clu­sion, bet­ter work­ing con­di­tions and equal pay for women around the world.

In re­sponse, the fes­ti­val ex­ec­u­tive did sign a di­ver­sity com­mit­ment spec­i­fy­ing trans­parency around film se­lec­tion and im­proved rep­re­sen­ta­tion of women on the Cannes board.

It seems the ma­ture fe­male stars of Hol­ly­wood have learned to use the power of their voices and unique plat­forms, both on and off the screen. And their acts of protest – small and large, loud and silent – are fu­elling a larger move­ment by women and for women the world over.

jury mem­bers (left to right): kris­ten ste­wart, ava duVer­nay, cate blanchett, Léa sey­doux and khadja nin

kris­ten ste­wart re­moves her shoes on the red car­pet as she ar­rives for the screen­ing of the film BlacKkKlans­man in silent protest of the high-heels rule.

jane fonda ar­riv­ing in cannes

Be­low: di­rec­tors, ac­tresses and in­dus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives on the red car­pet in protest of the lack of fe­male film­mak­ers hon­oured through­out the his­tory of the fes­ti­val. Right: au­thors of Noire n’est pas mon métier ( Black Is Not My Job) at­tend the screen­ing of Burn­ing.

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