Cannes best dressed: From Brigitte Bardot to Madonna, iconic vintage looks from the film festival's history

Megan C. Hills
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Cannes best dressed: From Brigitte Bardot to Madonna, iconic vintage looks from the film festival's history

Cannes best dressed: From Brigitte Bardot to Madonna, iconic vintage looks from the film festival's history

The 73rd Cannes Film Festival was supposed to kick off yesterday, however due to the outbreak of COVID-19 the festival has been cancelled.

For a festival that has only been cancelled once in its entire history due to WW2, Cannes chief Thierry Fremaux lamented to Screen Daily that he "could never have imagined something like this."

While the typical glitz and glamour of Cannes will be sorely missed this year, there's been a number of incredible moments over its 72 year history.

Beyond the films vying for a coveted Palm d'Or, the French festival is also renowned for its glamorous red carpet which has seen the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Rihanna dazzle over the years.

With the event dating back to 1946, the Cannes archives are a hive of glamorous movie star moments. Here's a few red carpet style classics from over the years (featuring big diamonds, big dresses and even a crown).

Brigitte Bardot, 1954


Why: Although none of Bardot's films competed at the festival that year, the movie star's popularity had exploded at the festival the year before.

Before Nicole Kidman was crowned Queen of Cannes in 2017, French bombshell Brigitte Bardot was one of the film festival’s biggest darlings.

In 1954 she opted for a white gown with a floral embellished belt, white elbow length gloves and metallic court shoes. While the Elizabeth Taylors of the time preferred large diamonds, she chose to wear elaborate pearl earrings - a jewellery trend which is still alive on Instagram today.

Sophia Loren, 1955


Why: It isn't known which event Loren wore this to, however her film The Sign of Venus competed at the festival in 1955.

When you think of old school Hollywood glamour, you think of mind-boggling jewels, dramatic dresses and fur coats (which haven’t dated so well). Actor Sophia Loren was the epitome of golden era celebrity, sweeping down Cannes’ staircase in a lace and tulle ballgown, elbow length gloves, an unusual sparkling necklace and a fluffy stole.

Diana Dors, 1956

(Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Why: Dors attended the festival accompanied by her first husband Dennis Hamilton (right).

Actress Diana Dors was clearly ahead of her time in an unusual mermaid tail gown, which featured an asymmetrical fur-lined split and tulle skirt.

Given that dramatic fur accessories were the order of the day, she accessorised with a floor length stole and kept her jewellery to a minimum - allowing the sparkling embellishments on her gown to shine. Her finger-waved hair was also quintessential 50s glamour.

Elizabeth Taylor, 1957

(Getty Images)

Why: Taylor's husband, actor Richard Burton, seen accompanying her above, opened the film festival with a screening of his film Around the World in 80 Days.

While Taylor chose not to break out the million dollar diamond that Richard Burton purchased for her in this moment at Cannes, her gems were no less impressive when she appeared at the festival in 1957. While her full dress can’t be seen here, her accessories were truly the star of the show as she proved bigger is better with a large brooch, diamond earrings and - casually - a crown.

Her detailed micro bag was also a beautiful touch, and still on trend today.

Princess Diana, 1987

(Tim Graham/Getty Images)

Why: Princess Diana and Prince Charles attended the 40th anniversary of Cannes.

When Princess Diana walked Cannes’ red carpet alongside her then-husband Prince Charles, she turned to one of her favourite designers Catherine Walker for help. The chiffon sky blue dress with its pleated bodice, draped waist and matching blue scarf cemented her as an international style icon, accessorised with aquamarine jewels which enhanced the gown’s shade.

Madonna, 1991

(AFP/Getty Images)

Why: Madonna's film In Bed With Madonna screened in 1991.

In 1991, Madonna was in full swing as one of the biggest musican icons of the decade. Her appearance at Cannes was as on-brand as it gets. At the screening of her own film In Bed with Madonna, she chose to wear a silk conical bra and bloomers Jean-Paul Gaultier ensemble, which she cast off a silky mauve coat to display in its full glory.

Scroll through our gallery above for more vintage Cannes moments.