The annual 67th Cannes Film Festival opens today beneath the azure skies of the French Riviera. This invitation only event is the most prestigious and publicised platform for thousands of delegates and luminaires to rub shoulders and strut their stuff, all competing for the crowning Palme d’Or award… or at the very least, as a newcomer, learn from all the pomp and pizazz.
Not only is the Cannes Film Festival an opportunity to welcome the world’s greatest film artists and emerging talent, and to honour the creativity of those artists on whom the Festival’s prestige depends but when it comes to red carpet glamour, few events compete with the Cannes Film Festival for sheer sartorial spectacle and star power — the ball gowns are bigger, the glitz glitzier and the detailing more decadent.
The Cannes red-carpet premiere is a decorous dance where, every night, 2,300 invited guests walk the bright Red Carpet Steps of Palais’ Grand Theatre Lumiere. The dress code is strictly black-tie. As an attendee, brown shoes with a black tux are enough to get one booted… In short, if ever there is a fashion faux pas free zone then it is parading down that red carpet and climbing those 24 iconic steps as hundreds of screaming fans look on… Those glorious brief moments can either make or break you… at least among fashionistas and their sycophants.
The most coveted ticket in town during the festival is amfAR’s annual Cinema Against AIDS Gala. This charitable fundraiser is the social highlight of the festival and has been the hottest ticket in town, since 1993 when it was held for the first time. The foundation is unrivalled in generating funds for amfAR’s lifesaving AIDS research programmes. Since 1993 Cinema Against AIDS events around the world have raised more than $80 million.
The black-tie gala event boasts a glittering guest list, including celebrities and personalities associated with the film festival while also attracting familiar faces from the worlds of fashion, music, business, and international society. It’s no wonder that the Cannes Cinema Against AIDS Gala is known for its unpredictable live auction and unscripted and unforgettable moments: George Clooney bestowing a kiss on a lucky auction bidder, Sharon Stone dancing along to an impromptu performance by Sir Elton John and Ringo Starr, Mary J. Blige bringing the crowd to its feet during a moving rendition of U2’s anthem “One” or Janet Jackson paying a heartfelt tribute to amfAR’s co-founder the late Dame Elizabeth Taylor.
Next week, on 22 May, the former Vogue editor, Carine Roitfeld will host the event for the third year running. This year, Roitfield will literally paint the catwalk red at this glamorous spectacle. She has chosen red as the theme — which, coincidentally, is the colour that symbolises the fight against AIDS — and will dedicate the event to the legendary screen icon, Marilyn Monroe. (Last year’s event was gold-themed and dedicated to Elizabeth Taylor.)
When asked why she chose Marilyn Monroe as this year’s Muse, Roitfeld said: “She searched for love all her life, and I think she would have been a big supporter of the foundation.”
For this year’s fashion extravaganza, Roitfeld enlisted some of the world’s biggest fashion houses to design one-off scarlet gowns for the catwalk show, including Alexander McQueen, Alexander Wang, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Roberto Cavalli, Chanel, Christian Dior, Christopher Kane, Fendi, Giorgio Armani, Givenchy, Gucci and Tom Ford.
The special designer pieces will be worn by forty models, including Arizona Muse, Toni Garrn and Karlie Koss, many of whom, Roitfeld points out, “come at their own expense just to be part of the show.” Last year’s show featured everyone from Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Karolina Kurkova, to Alessandra Ambrosio, Irina Shayk and Liberty Ross, to name but a few.
The designer gowns and top models will be joined by a host of famous faces at this show stopping extravaganza, as well as this year’s event chairs John Travolta, Milla Jovovich, Harvey Weinstein and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.
All the outfits will be auctioned straight off the catwalk, alongside other unique prizes to raise funds for the charity. In past, prizes have included a kiss from George Clooney and the opportunity to star in a short film directed by Karl Lagerfeld and produced by Hollywood bigwig Harvey Weinstein.