Elle Fanning Talks Style Trends and Her Approach to Dressing at Cannes: 'You Can Go All Out' (Exclusive)

"There has to be something eye-catching about it," the actress and L'Oréal Paris spokesperson tells PEOPLE of her festival fashion

<p>Arnold Jerocki/Getty Images for L

Arnold Jerocki/Getty Images for L'Oreal Paris; Rocco Spaziani/Archivio Spaziani/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty

Elle Fanning at Cannes Film Festival 2024

Elle Fanning has had one stylish month.

Fresh off her appearance at the 2024 Met Gala on May 6, where she turned heads in a mesmerizing resin-dipped Balmain gown, Fanning touched down at the 77th Annual Cannes Film Festival in the South of France, where she shut down the carpet in one glam look after another.

Given she’s been in Hollywood since childhood, it’s not exactly surprising Fanning, who served as a juror at the festival this year, has evolved into a red carpet style star. What is surprising, however, is how the actress and L’Oréal Paris spokesperson, 26, continues to reinvent her fashion sense while staying true to herself.

“I've always cared about the way I looked, and I've always loved clothes and fashion,” Fanning tells PEOPLE exclusively, adding that another key to her impressive style is "I don't like to follow too many trends."

Related: Timothée Chalamet and Elle Fanning Share a Laugh Together on Set of Bob Dylan Biopic

“I was allowed to experiment growing up,” she says. "I would go to a lot of thrift stores and vintage stores and mix those things with my everyday clothes. I had a 1950s bathing suit phase when I was 7.”

As for choosing red carpet looks, Fanning says that she and her team are on the same page.

“There has to be something eye-catching about it, something maybe a little bit off about it, something a little weird that makes it interesting,” the actress explains. “The angles have to work. Whether it's a really big dress or if it's flowy, you want the angles to be right.”

The Great star continues, “An ‘Elle’ dress is normally pastel, and then also can have that kind of twinge of Grace Kelly aspects. That's always a go-to for me, especially in Cannes.”

<p>Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty</p> Elle Fanning at the 2024 Met Gala

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

Elle Fanning at the 2024 Met Gala

At the 2024 Met Gala, she topped best-dressed lists with a sculpted Balmain gown adorned with 3D birds. Fanning explains that the creation was made of organza dipped in resin, which was then molded onto a form to fit the star's exact measurements.

The result was jaw-dropping — and looked like glass, a nod to the event's "Sleeping Beauty" theme, and coincidentally, Fanning's prior role as the Disney princess — but required the ultimate fashion sacrifice: comfort.

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"I was like, 'I have to be able to sit down. It's embarrassing if I can't,' " the actress recalls. "But then the Friday I tried it on and it was so beautifully perfect ... [but] it was like, 'I can't sit.' And it's like, 'It looks so good, there's nothing we can do about it. It's worth it.' "

In contrast to her restricting Met Gala look, Fanning embraced breezier pieces when arriving in Cannes. The star made her way to the French Riviera wearing a chic menswear-inspired suit in a springy shade of Robin’s egg-blue. Later on during the festival, she donned a vintage Chanel dress with frilly lace details.

<p>Marc Piasecki/GC Images</p> Elle Fanning arriving at Cannes 2024

Marc Piasecki/GC Images

Elle Fanning arriving at Cannes 2024

Fanning’s love bows makes her style even sweeter.

"They just make everything better,” Fanning says of the hair accessory, which she made look timeless at the Lights on Women’s Worth event on Friday, May 24. The star took ethereal fashion to the next level in a head-to-toe Chanel ensemble of a pale pink tulle skirt, matching bandeau top and sequin jacket, a delicate pink hair ribbon draping past her shoulder-length blonde hair.

<p>Arnold Jerocki/Getty Images for L'Oreal Paris</p> Elle Fanning in Cannes 2024

Arnold Jerocki/Getty Images for L'Oreal Paris

Elle Fanning in Cannes 2024

For the festival’s closing ceremony on Saturday, May 25, Fanning channeled '70s-inspired glam in a sheer, floral-patterned Gucci gown with a plunging neckline and a dramatic open back.

“Cannes is the ultimate playground for fashion, and you can go all out,” she says.

<p>Pascal Le Segretain/Getty</p> Elle Fanning at Cannes 2024

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty

Elle Fanning at Cannes 2024

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Fanning, who's been a spokesperson for L'Oréal Paris since 2017, shared that the beauty conglomerate encouraged her to express herself freely on the red carpet.

“That's what's so beautiful about coming with them is they don't put pressure on any of their spokeswomen to look a certain way,” she says. “They want us to feel good and feel like ourselves. And they don't dictate what we wear. They want everyone to have their own personal style and have fun.”

As Fanning’s flowing Gucci gown caught the wind on the red carpet — the star all smiles and dancer-like poses — it was clear she was having a ball.

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