Main Image: Instagram Snaps from Mary Katrantzou, Ashi & Adam Selman

Radical Fashion on Cannes’ Runway

Every May, the world’s most glamorous festival celebrating global cinema is a chance for the industry’s A-listers to play dress-up in their most captivating looks.

Building a reputation of prestige since 1946, iconic personalities such as Sophia Loren, Brigitte Bardot and Elizabeth Taylor have rocked up to the glitzy affair wearing classic haute couture. Who can forget that Catherine Walker gown worn by Princess Diana back in 1987, inspired by Grace Kelly’s dress in To Catch a Thief?

Over the years, Cannes’ notoriously strict formal dress codes (dinner jackets and long gowns with heels) have come under scrutiny for being outdated, leading a few celebrities to provocatively subvert the rules. In 1991, Madonna caused a stir with her signature pink Jean-Paul Gaultier conical bra and matching tap shorts, while as recently as 2015, the festival received backlash for barring entry to a group of women for not wearing high heels.

This year, while some guests kept with tradition, choosing modern couture designers like Zuhair Murad and Elie Saab, many opted for more radical designers perhaps as their own silent protest against an industry that still has a long way to go to reach gender equality.

Discover the new guard of designers turning heads at the 71st edition.

Mary Katrantzou worn by Cate Blanchett

Designer Mary Katrantzou knows how to command a red carpet event with her vibrant aesthetic. A master of kaleidoscopic prints and vibrant embellishments, Katrantzou has become a firm favourite for celebrities like Janelle Monae, Zendaya and Kerry Washington. The label’s prestigious global stockists include Harrods, Le Bon Marche and Bergdorf Goodman amongst many others.

Actress Cate Blanchett, styled by Elizabeth Stewart, wore an updated 50’s-inspired asymmetric ball gown. Engulfed in a multi-coloured floral print, the dress was adorned with shimmering embellishments from top to toe.

Katrantzou’s elevated design brought a modern twist to a classic style. The designer, long a fan of the actress, gushed: “I have admired Cate for her immense talent, intellect and grace for many years and have always thought of her as the epitome of the woman I aspire to design for.”

Adam Selman worn by Marion Cotillard

New York-based ready-to-wear label, Adam Selman, is best known for quirky prints, matching separates and a hard-candy aesthetic. Debuting at New York Fashion Week SS’15, the label has already secured top stockists like Opening Ceremony, Kith, and Ron Herman, and has amassed a loyal Instagram following of 150K including celebrity fans like singers Lorde and Rihanna, and model Gigi Hadid.

As the face of Dior for eight years, Oscar-winning actress Marion Cotillard has often sported looks from couture houses to her red carpet events, but in recent years her support for young independent labels has soared. With her longtime stylist, Eliot Bliss, Cotillard now seems to be more experimental on the red carpet and for this year's event, Adam Selman fit the bill.

She wore a backless navy and white gingham romper with a skirt overlay, finished with a clashing neon green bow. Floor-grazing with a thigh-revealing front slit, the look stood out as a contemporary take on Sharon Stone’s beaded Valentino romper, worn in 1995.

Koché worn by Marion Cotillard

Another choice by Cotillard, ready-to-wear label Koché lie at the intersection between high fashion and street culture. Creative director Christelle Koché cut her teeth working for Bottega Veneta, Dries Van Noten and Sonia Rykiel before launching her self-named Parisian label in 2014. Shortlisted for both the LVMH Prize and the Andam Fashion Award in 2016, the label now boasts over 30 points of sale worldwide including Isetan in Tokyo, Selfridges in London and Le Bon Marche in Paris.

For her second look at the Cannes Film Festival, Cotillard rocked a racy, off-the-shoulder catsuit to the Chopard Gentleman’s Evening. An unconventional choice, her punchy look from Koché’s Pre-Fall ‘18 collection was again a testament to the changing dress codes at the festival. Featuring an ’80s-style animal print in fire engine red, the look was set off with Chopard jewels.

Osman worn by Fan BingBing

Helmed by Osman Yousefzada, London-based ready-to-wear label Osman creates elegant, architectural designs. A graduate of Central Saint Martins, Osman landed the BFC’s NEWGEN sponsorship in 2008 and again for the following three seasons. Now stocked globally by top-tier retailers like Browns, Barneys and Bloomingdales, Osman’s A-list fans include Jennifer Lopez and Emma Watson.

On this occasion, Chinese actress Fan BingBing chose to endorse the label, looking prim and proper in a crisp white ensemble at the premiere of her new film, 355. Fitting right into the fresh seaside aesthetic of the French Riviera, BingBing wore an ostrich feather-embellished skirt and oversized satin shirt, accessorised with gold platform stilettos and large sunglasses.

Ashi Studio worn by Nicole Scherzinger

Launched in Beirut in 2007 by designer Mohammed Ashi, Ashi Studio pushes the boundaries of both ready-to-wear and couture through sculptural tailoring and ornate fabrics. Signatures like exaggerated proportions, elegant frills and masterful layering have earned a loyal celebrity following including Cardi B, Heidi Klum and Celine Dion.

A number of stars wore Ashi Studio on the red carpet this year, including singer Nicole Scherzinger, who oozed post-Hollywood glamour in a white embellished gown from Ashi's SS'18 couture collection. The strapless dress boasted a floor-length paisley lace skirt and chic feather bodice.