For reasons right and wrong, the Cannes red carpet continues to interest
The Cannes red carpet is a thing of beauty if not a joy forever. Despite ill-timed rain that tends to whip coiffed and static-groomed hair across beautiful faces (the latter often the billboard of a certain French cosmetic giant), this is a place where fashion happens. Sartorially, India’s relationship with Cannes has been on a pendulum, attendees treading that thick line between being cultural ambassadors of their country (often stumbling into a quagmire of exaggerated tradition) and presenting a global face that’ll be noticed by those who matter.
This year is Vidya Balan’s. As jury member, the actor will be all over the place along with fellow jury member Nicole Kidman. (No one’s interested in the tuxedos of Steven Spielberg, Ang Lee, or Christoph Waltz.) Sabyasachi should be happy; it’s been his designs all three days, though many are still wondering what the head veil at the opening ceremony was all about. At the screening of The Great Gatsby, while Mallika Sherawat came uncharacteristically subdued in a gold beaded dress, it was a sequinned tuxedo and polka dotted bowtie for Amitabh Bachchan at the opening ceremony.
It’s been just a little over a decade since Aishwarya Rai made her Cannes debut. While the first outing involved getting off a horse-drawn carriage while promoting Devdas in 2002, the magnitude of the event came bearing down on her head next year, at her turn as jury member. Then, the Neeta Lulla-designed wardrobe draw much ire, reactions ranging from “garish”, what-was-she-thinking, to plain hideous. Hypothetical alternatives were suggested, a “lost opportunity” rued. The drubbing ensured that she ran into the safer extreme; henceforth it’s been a series of Giorgio Armani, Armani Prive, Roberto Cavalli, and Elie Saab, the rare Indian wardrobe additions being Sabyasachi and Abu Jani-Sandeep Khosla.
Nandita Das’ jury turn in 2005, on the other hand, was an effortless success — the red-and-gold Kanjivaram silk sari leaving nothing to be criticised.
Sonam Kapoor, as L’Oreal brand ambassador, has had a decent run, case in point being the sheer Jean Paul Gaultier gown worn at The Artist premiere in 2011. This year, at The Great Gatsby screening, she opted for a lace sari and trailing coat by her favourite Anamika Khanna.
Freida Pinto, who’s not exactly known for red carpet missteps, this time made her entry in a Gucci halter gown. Past appearances have been in Atelier Versace, Paco Rabanne, Salvatore Ferragamo and Michael Angel.