Cannes Film Festival Red Carpet Etiquette

The Ikon London Magazine editorial team have long been championing the correct red carpet etiquette, starting from divulging how to ‘Dress to Impress’ for the red-carpet event to how distracting and uncouth it is to be taking selfies on the red carpet.

The science of the etiquette is not new and, in general, it has a good degree of common sense in the rules laid out by the organisers of events. And while the majority of the English-speaking West seemingly embarked on the race to the bottom in the desire to please the ‘cultural have-nots’, Cannes Film Festival is pushing the envelope and raising the standards in the industry.Red Carpet etiquete Palais du Film Stairs Cannes Film Festival 2013 © Joe Alvarez

Cannes Film Festival dress code for the film screening guests

Cannes Film Festival organisers have strict rules akin to the ones at Royal Ascot. The main two worth remembering are no handbags on the red carpet and mandatory heels for women.

No handbags at the Cannes Film Festival red carpet

Premiere goers lucky enough to have secured an invitation to the screening are advised to leave their bulky handbags in their hotels. Same goes for small clutches too. Alternatively, you will be turned away from the premiere, even with a ticket.

From the aesthetic point of view, organisers and the press are after ‘clean’ shots on the red carpet. No one wants to see odd ‘bag lady’ with their over-the-shoulder bag walking down the red carpet. The event will instantly lose all its glam and magic.

Appropriate footwear

It may seem reasonable to the intellectual audience that it’s hardly a lot to ask to wear appropriate footwear to the red carpet. That means, no trainers and not barefoot! This rule was never questioned (and what is there to question?) until 2015, when Screen Daily reported a hearsay that a group of women was allegedly turned away from the screening because they were wearing flat shoes.

The organisers replied that the claim was unfounded, however. Thierry Fremaux – the director of the Cannes Film festival – tweeted: “For the stairs, the regulations have not changed: ‘No smoking, formal wear’. There is no mention of heels.”

A note about dress codes on the festival’s website appears to reinforce his point. It says “black tie /evening dress is required for gala screenings” – with no guidance on heel height. However, the rumour spread wide and some activist-actors with nothing better to do decided to challenge the organisers the following year.

In 2016, American Actor Julia Roberts hit the red carpet barefoot as a sign of a protest against the orthodox – we say reasonable – organisers. Another American actor, Kristen Stewart – now in the jury – wore denim trainers to the premiere of Personal Shopper. We already mentioned the race to the bottom of the English-speaking West.

It must be said, both actors were allowed to the red carpet that year. However, Thierry Fremaux found a creative way to retaliate in 2017.

At the 70th Cannes Film Festival, the subject was again brought to light with the introduction of buttons pinned to the accreditation lanyards, given to every accredited professional. One of the pin badges, with a clear nod to the uncouth actors, read: “My dream: to walk the red carpet in flip-flops”.

So much of the ‘suffering from too many rules and lack of culture acting elite’. But the rules are there for everyone and, as we mentioned, screening-goers got away pretty easy.

Dress code for photographers

Red Carpet Photographers La La Land premiere at the Venice Film Festival © Joe Alvarez

Everyone in a view of cameras and public has to follow the dressing guide and photographers are not an exclusion. Although, the rules are less strict for women photographers – tell us about gender equality!

Ikon London Magazine Editor in Chief and renown celebrity photographer Joe Alvarez shared with us the requirements for the press photographers and videographers on the red carpet.

“The dress code for the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival is strictly ‘black tie’. Everyone without a bow tie will be turned away from the premiere. Black tux. The shoes must strictly be all-black evening shoes. Although I am lucky to have found evening-style DM’s that I wear only in Cannes.”

As to the women photographers, they are given a free choice as long as they look smart. “I’ve seen women wearing black skirts and trousers paired with various horrendous casual tops and no one bats an eyelid,” added Cannes Film Festival regular Joe Alvarez.

The organisers have tightened the rules yet again this year in relation to the dress code for the photocall. “Until this year, the photo calls that happen during the day were attended by photographers with many wearing casual Bermuda shorts and T-shirts. This year the organisers specifically issued a guide for the photo calls saying in plain English ‘No Bermuda Shorts’”.

No selifes on the red carpet rule is finally being enforced

Another rule that has been seemingly ignored over the last past years dates back to 2015, when Thierry Fermaux banned selfies on the red carpet. The rule was never properly enforced and caused working photographers and TV crews a lot of grief. “Selfies slow down the procession and it just looks awful,” commented Joe Alvarez. He continued, “If you are lucky enough to have gotten the invitation to the official screening, you might as well just live in the moment and let photographers do their job of capturing the best moments of the festival.”

Back in 2017, another pin badge issued with every lanyard read “I am so pathetic, I took a selfie on the red carpet”. Alas, it wasn’t enough to stop ‘pathetic people’ taking selfies and photos on their phones. Ikon London Magazine has at the time prominently featured them in previous articles.

Fast forward to 2018, Cannes Film Festival took drastic measures. All offenders of this rule, the signage claims, will be denied access to the screening. And the rule has been enforced, according to Mr Alvarez. “I was extremely glad to see this rule finally enforced – I saw one man denied entry on the opening night. Hats off to the organisers for keeping the bar high. I hope more events will follow the suit.”

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