Women Wear the Pants at this Year’s Cannes Film Festival

Photo by Marc Piasecki/GC Images

On the red carpet on the Croisette, there is still an outdated dress code rule that states women shall not wear flat shoes. Chanel-approved actor Kristen Stewart very deliberately removed her sky-high pumps and walked barefoot, in silent protest.

Kate Blanchett at Cannes Film Festival 2018
Jury Member Kristen Stewart and Jury President Cate Blanchettt attend the photocall for Jury during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 8, 2018 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Venturelli/WireImage)


But the fashion shift that really speaks volumes is the number of women wearing pantsuits as formalwear this year at Cannes film festival. The all-female jury of nine is banding together against traditional ideals of glamour.

Showing the way is jury president (and 49-year-old fashion icon) Cate Blanchett,  who has busted a pale pink suit by Stella McCartney for the flashbulbs. Earlier in the week she also wore a sporty lemon-coloured Calvin Klein suit with athletic stripes down the leg. She was flanked by fellow jury members Stewart (in a cropped blue Chanel nubby tweed pantsuit) and French star Lea Seydoux in a sharp green trouser suit by Louis Vuitton.

Another standout pantsuit look on the Riviera was the Armani black one worn by Bollywood royal Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, who is 44.

Fashion has become a statement-making tool for Hollywood women and female actors the world over to declare #TimesUp and #MeToo. From the all-black showing at the Golden Globes to the single white rose carried by female Grammy stars, fashion has made a powerful statement.

Speaking of statements, Blanchett led 82 women, including Salma Hayek and Ava DuVernay on the steps of the Palais des Festival to deliver a statement about women and equality in the film industry.

Of course, Hilary’s white pantsuit accepting the Democratic nomination (and later, Melania’s version at her husband’s State of the Union address amid the first stirrings of the porn star affair scandal) was meant to evoke the white of the suffragette movement. And the pantsuits, Hilary’s career-long signature, always evoke the heady empowerment of the Women’s Libbers of the 70s.

Jane Fonda at Cannes Film Festival 2018
Jane Fonda attends the Trophee Chopard during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at Hotel Martinez on May 14, 2018 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images for Chopard)


And fittingly the last word on liberated fashion at Cannes comes from a woman who literally embodied protest in 70s: Jane Fonda, recently turned 80. The actor has won the glitziest week of the year, with both her clothes and her words. As Vanity Fair put it, Fonda is having “an exceptionally fashionable Cannes.” She rocked a long, beaded Valentino with a duster coat one night and then did a quick change to flash a diamond-belted white custom Alberta Ferretti suit for a Trophee Chopard event.

She was clear about her loyalties and priorities arriving in the French city wearing jeans and a #TimesUp T-shirt. The forthright celebrity also recently made waves on the promo tour for her new gal-pal rom com Book Club, which is about the importance of friendship and sex in mature women’s lives. She candidly declared she no longer has sex herself, with the no bones statement: “I’ve closed up shop down there.”