What Is the Unspoken Shoe Rule at the Cannes Film Festival & Who Has Broke the Controversial Dress Code?


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For years, the Cannes Film Festival has had an unspoken rule requiring women to wear high heels. While the festival director Thierry Fremaux has said this is a baseless rumor, some incidents over the years have proved otherwise.

The most notable came in 2015. According to several reports at the time, a group of women in their fifties were turned away from the premiere of “Carol,” the 1950s lesbian romance starring Cate Blanchett, for not wearing “tall enough” shoes.

That same year, Asif Kapadia, director of the Amy Winehouse documentary, “Amy,” confirmed on social media that his wife was also barred from entering his own premiere at Cannes because she wasn’t wearing heels, though she was eventually allowed in.

Actress Emily Blunt, who starred in the FBI drama “Sicario,” was asked about the controversy at her film’s press conference during the 2015 festival. She said: “Everyone should wear flats, to be honest. We shouldn’t wear high heels anyway. That’s very disappointing — just when you kind of think there are these new waves of equality. That’s my point of view. I just prefer wearing Converse sneakers.”

Following the controversy, A-List actresses have seemingly taken a stand against the so-called rule. The following year, Julia Roberts removed her heels as she ascended the staircase at Palais des Festivals for the screening of her movie “Money Monster.”

CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 12:  Producer Jodie Foster and actress Julia Roberts, walking bare foot, attend the "Money Monster" premiere during the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival at the Palais des Festivals on May 12, 2016 in Cannes, France.  (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)
Producer Jodie Foster and actress Julia Roberts, walking bare foot, attend the “Money Monster” premiere during the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival at the Palais des Festivals on May 12, 2016 in Cannes, France.

Kristen Stewart also went barefoot following a photocall for Café Society” in 2016.

Stewart defied tradition once again in 2018 when she removed her Christian Louboutins as she posed for photos on the red carpet at the “BlacKkKlansman” movie premiere. With a shoe in each hand, she ascended the famous staircase.

US actress and member of the Feature Film Jury Kristen Stewart walks barefoot on the red carpet after she removed her shoes as she arrives on May 14, 2018 for the screening of the film "BlacKkKlansman" at the 71st edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France. (Photo by Valery HACHE / AFP) (Photo by VALERY HACHE/AFP via Getty Images)
US actress and member of the Feature Film Jury Kristen Stewart walks barefoot on the red carpet after she removed her shoes as she arrives on May 14, 2018 for the screening of the film “BlacKkKlansman” at the 71st edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France.

“There’s definitely a distinct dress code,” she said to the Hollywood Reporter about the rule. “People get very upset at you if you don’t wear heels or whatever. I feel like you can’t ask that anymore, but it’s still a given,” she said. “If you’re not asking guys to wear heels and a dress, then you can’t ask me either.”

It was clear that heels-only policy for women was still in effect at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, when former Variety’s editor-in-chief Claudia Eller was briefly stopped by security officials for not wearing high heels, she claimed in a video posted on Twitter.

“Last night I was stopped on the Cannes red carpet and told by this idiotic security guard that I couldn’t get into this premiere because I was wearing flats,” Eller tweeted, sharing a video of the encounter. “I threatened to post this video on our Variety website. I got in.”

Despite the festival denying the no-flats policy, it is still unclear as to what is acceptable.

Last year, for instance, Jennifer Lawrence attended the “Anatomy of a Fall” premiere in a red Dior gown paired with flip-flops.

Jennifer Lawrence, Dior, gown, red gown, diamonds, diamond necklace, flip flops, black flip flops, thong sandals, flat sandals, red carpet, celebrity red carpet, rule breaking, Cannes, France, Cannes Film Festival, premiere, movie premiere
Jennifer Lawrence attends the “Anatomie D’une Chute (Anatomy Of A Fall)” premiere during the 76th annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals in Cannes, France on May 21, 2023.

Yet, in 2022, Canadian Indigenous filmmaker Kelvin Redvers was initially turned away from a red carpet screening of David Cronenberg‘s “Crimes of the Future” for wearing traditional moccasins with a tuxedo. After an intervention, Redvers was allowed in and continued to wear his shoes.

“It was hurtful and I was quite shocked, but I’m glad the festival saw the importance of me representing my culture and celebrating that at the gala. I look forward to seeing more cultural representation at festival red carpet events without incident,” he said in a statement.

Currently, on the Festival de Cannes’ website, the dress code states that to attend a gala screening a dinner jacket (tuxedo) with a bow tie or an evening dress is required. It reads: “In the absence of this, you may wear a cocktail dress, a dark trouser suit, a dressy top with black trousers, a black dress, a black or midnight blue suit with a bow tie.” As for footwear, it continued: “Elegant shoes, with or without heels, are required. Trainers are forbidden.”



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