Wearing flats and going barefoot are a small act of rebellion at the festival.
Several stars have opted out of wearing high heels at Cannes’ red carpet events and instead, chose to wear flats or go completely barefoot.
This year, Jennifer Lawrence was seen in a floor-length Dior gown. As she lifted up her dress while descending the steps of the Palais des Festival, a pair of black flip-flops were revealed to have replaced her red high heels.
The flat shoes incidents in 2015
Aside from being a much more comfortable alternative, flat shoes have become a symbol of defiance for celebrities attending Cannes.
In 2015, a group of women were reportedly turned away from a screening of Carol at the festival for wearing rhinestone flats instead of heels. Some of the women who were in their 50s had medical conditions which would have made wearing high heels even more uncomfortable than usual.
In the same year, film producer Valeria Richter told the press that she was stopped four times by red carpet officials for wearing flat shoes. Having had part of her left foot amputated, Richter said that she couldn’t keep her balance in high heels.
She was eventually allowed in but many other festival-goers reported seeing the same incident happening to other women. Cannes’ director Thierry Frémaux has denied that high heels are obligatory on the red carpet.
Celebrities taking a stand against patriarchal dress codes
In 2016, a year after the incidents, actress Julia Roberts walked the red carpet barefoot while on the way to the premiere of Money Maker which she stars in with George Clooney and directed by Jodie Foster.
Sasha Lane did the same at a photocall that same year. In an interview two years later, Lane shared that she was warned about the high heels rule but she didn’t care.
“The carpet was for our film and I was dressed in a very elegant gown and there’s a ton of stairs, and I’m walking around all day… so I will go barefoot. Why is anyone against that? I’m still here and well-dressed,” Lane explained.
In 2018, Kristen Stewart arrived on the red carpet wearing Christian Louboutin stilettos, only to take them off in front of photographers. Stewart was a member of the film festival’s jury that year and was on the way to the BlacKkKlansman premiere.
“There’s definitely a distinct dress code, right?” she told the Hollywood Reporter. “People get very upset if you don’t wear heels or whatever… I feel like you can’t ask people that anymore—it’s a given. If you’re not asking guys to wear heels and a dress, you cannot ask me either.”
Celebrities are still choosing to forgo high heels at this year’s Cannes. Aside from Jennifer Lawrence, Cate Blanchett also ditched her stilettos to stand barefoot while she presented the Breakthrough Artist award to Iranian-French star Zahra Amir Ebrahimi.
Rather than simply defying dress codes, Blanchett explained that it was also in honor of the women in Iran. Gesturing to Ebrahimi’s pointy trophy, she said “This is to stab all the people that stand in the way of women’s rights.”
Banner image by GabboT via Wikimedia Commons.