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After More Outcry, Cannes Tries to Clarify Red Carpet Shoe Policy

Danish producer Valeria Richter made headlines Wednesday for having trouble entering Cannes’ red carpet screening of “The Sea of Trees” wearing flat shoes, despite having part of her foot amputated. Though she was ultimately allowed to attend, the festival has attempted to clarify its policy. However, it still has not explained what kind of shoes will pass muster.

Emily Blunt spoke out Tuesday about what she characterized as a ban on flats, saying, “I think everyone should wear flats, to be honest. We shouldn’t wear high heels anymore. I prefer to wear Converse sneakers.” She later walked the red carpet in sky-high stiletto sandals.

While a festival office reportedly told Screen Daily that heels were required, festival director Thierry Fremaux tweeted about the controversy Tuesday, saying heels are not part of the rules. He outlined the policy: “For the steps (red carpet), nothing has changed: Smoking (tuxedo), black tie. No mention of heels.”

But he also tweeted that the festival would try to make sure festival personnel were better informed about the policy.

“Regarding the dress code for the red carpet screenings, rules have not changed throughout the years (Tuxedo, formal dress for Gala screenings), and there is no specific mention about the height of the women’s heels as well as for men’s,” said a statement from the festival, alluding to the overly zealous shoe policing on the red carpet. “Thus, in order to make sure that this rule is respected, the festival’s hosts and hostesses were reminded of it.”

The 68-year-old festival has always had a strict black-tie dress code for gala evening screenings. While men know that a tuxedo or formal jacket and bow tie is de rigueur, it’s harder for the personnel at red carpet screenings to judge what constitutes formal wear for women, and the French-speaking monitors are notoriously strict and inconsistent. Many women walk the carpet and enter the Palais in formal flats, informal platforms and or even sneakers under a long dress, while others, such as Richter, are either turned away or must make their case to several guards.

In an interview with the BBC, Richter laughed it off, saying, “Everything has developed into this kind of heel-gate — it’s kind of fun.” But she did seem flustered at the thought that she would have to show her foot with an amputated big toe in order to convince the guards.

“They’re still not explaining clearly what kind of shoes are allowed or not,” she said in the interview.

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