Jennifer Lawrence in flip flops, Cate Blanchett barefoot. It’s not quite the look you’d expect from a star on the Cannes Film Festival red carpet, but it’s for good reason.
In 2015, a group of women were reportedly turned away from a Cannes screening of the film Carol for wearing flat shoes. It is thought to be an unspoken Cannes rule that high heels are compulsory for women.
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While festival director Thierry Fremaux has since debunked this, actresses have started using the Cannes red carpet to make a statement.
In 2016, Julia Roberts arrived barefoot in Cannes. In 2018, Kristen Stewart arrived on the red carpet in stilettos only to take them off when she was photographed.
“People get really upset if you don’t wear heels or whatever…I feel like you can’t ask people that anymore – it’s a fact. If you don’t ask guys to wear heels and a dress, you can’t ask me either,” Stewart previously told The Hollywood Reporter.
Eight years after the women were told by security guards they couldn’t enter the screening because they were wearing flats, Hollywood women are still making a statement, like Lawrence and Blanchett did This year.
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“I think some people still have a hard time equating flats with glamour. And Cannes is the pinnacle of glamour,” says Hannah Rochell, author of the En Brogue book series and longtime flats advocate. “Obviously, I disagree with that and would much rather get on and off yachts in a stable pair of flats (preferably with non-slip soles!) or barefoot.”
Rochell herself stopped wearing heels 12 years ago and started her blog, En Brogue, to document her flat shoe style. This has extended to Instagram (@hannah.rochell) where she has over 30,000 followers and promotes slow fashion. Rochell says she’s seen attitudes towards flats change since she started her blog, which she started “out of frustration” as there was a “severe lack of choice if you didn’t want to wear heels “.
“Fast forward a decade and you rarely see women wearing those sky-high stilettos in everyday life that were so popular back then. flat shoes (and there are so many more women who design for women), to the stylists who give us inspiration on how to wear them, and to the celebrities like those from Cannes who step onto the red carpet too. always be Frances McDormand wearing bright yellow Birkenstock sandals at the Oscars in 2019,” Rochell adds (see below).
As for actresses at Cannes wearing flats or none at all, Rochell says she “thinks it’s sad” that it’s considered a statement but understands their reasoning behind it, and that no one should feel pressured to wear a heel to a formal event.
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“I’ve been to many weddings in flats and I’m always last on the dance floor,” she adds. “I can run to the bus if I’m late, I can’t make it to the end of a work event and I hurt my toes. I don’t have uncomfortable heels languishing in the back of my closet, never worn because I just can’t walk in them. Plus, I just think flats look so cool.
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