For a fortnight, the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival becomes the biggest style showcase outside the Paris catwalks, and the organizers of the gala screenings at the Palais have standards that, they insist, must be kept. For this, they have deputized fashion police, highly trained men and women armed with only a keen sense of color and accessorizing.
These dedicated professionals see to it that those entering the evening screenings in the Palais comply with the rules: “Dinner jacket, white shirt and black bow tie” (what, no trousers?) for men, and “evening attire” for women.
“Most people know about the rules and respect them,” a Palais rep says. “It’s a tradition.”
After filmgoers are admitted into the front gate of the theater, they are given a once-over. If the outfit is not up to standards, they are not admitted to the theater or made to alter the ensemble. One journo had to buy a bow tie from the style enforcer because his fashion-forward neckwear just didn’t cut it aesthetically. (Conveniently, the Palais keeps a nice little box of Cannes-approved ties for sale.)
Allowances,however, are made for the artistes. Considering the long list of fashion faux pas by them over the past five decades (Sharon Stone, anyone?), they’d better be given some leeway.
But being a celeb doesn’t always help. One fest vet recalls seeing a pre-“Titanic” and tie-less Leonardo DiCaprio throw a fit because he was denied entrance to the Palais.
“They’re more vicious with the guys. If you’re not wearing the right shoes they will send you back,” says Maxine Leonard, exec VP of marketing and publicity for Myriad Pictures. “The more important the film, the stricter they get.”
Like most dictatorships, the police can seem arbitrary, but it’s comforting to know that, with cultural standards falling faster than Saddam statues, someone cares.