Despite the Cannes gender equality protest, despite Thierry Fremaux’s supposed commitment to change, despite partnering with the French Ministry of Gender Equality, the rules at Cannes Film Festival are still different for women and men.
This became apparent yesterday, when Kristen Stewart protested the tone-deaf ‘heels only’ rule by going barefoot on the red carpet. Attending the opening of BlacKkKlansman, she arrived in black trainers before changing into Louboutin’s for photographs, then quickly whipping them off as she ascended the stairs into the screening.
This was in response to a Cannes rule that women must wear high heels to red-carpet screenings, after the dress code sparked outrage in 2015 when a group of women were turned away from a screening of Carol for wearing flat shoes.
The festival stood by their archaic rule, stating ‘it is obligatory for all women to wear high heels to red-carpet screenings.’
Protesting this by walking barefoot up the red-carpet stairs, Kristen said, ‘things have to change immediately.
‘It has become really obvious that if (a man and I) were walking the red carpet together and someone stopped me and said, “Excuse me, young lady, you're not wearing heels. You cannot come in.” Then (I'm going to say), “Neither is my friend. Does he have to wear heels?” It can work both ways.
‘It's just like you simply cannot ask me to do something that you are not asking him. I get the black-tie thing but you should be able to do either version — flats or heels.’
Various other women have spoken out against the rule, with fellow actor Emily Blunt stating ‘everyone should wear flats, to be honest. We shouldn’t wear high heels.’
While dress codes are an accepted part of any formal event, the stipulation that women must wear heels, which frankly many do not feel comfortable wearing, is not only sexist, but completely ignorant in the wake of Cannes promise to combat gender equality. Formal flat shoes exist, and in the fashion age of trainers with dresses, can look equally as fabulous.
Will Cannes stick by its archaic rule and continue to chastise women for not adhering to the ridiculous standard? It’s unlikely. Kristen didn’t seem to face any criticism for her decision to go barefoot. Plus, she’s part of the first majority female Cannes Film Festival jury in decades, alongside Lupita Nyong’o, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz and Fan Bingbing.
So, maybe her seemingly small act of protest will be the catalyst for banning this outdated rule after all...