Last night played host to the opening ceremony of the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, an event which is always a highlight for those who love to watch red-carpet fashion, but particularly so this year, after 18 months of cancelled premieres and award ceremonies. With its return, the A-list stars and their styling teams are pulling out all the stops, nobody more so than French actress Marion Cotillard who stole the show last night in a shimmery Chanel gown.
The beautiful dress was created with layers of silver lace and embellishment, and is from one of the house's recent couture collections, that which was presented last summer in the midst of the pandemic. Cotillard says that as soon as she saw it, she knew she had to wear it as soon as an opportunity presented itself.
"When I first saw this dress in July 2020, during the small presentation of the couture collection that couldn’t be shown on a runway, I immediately wanted to wear it," she told us. "I didn’t know what the occasion would be, but as soon as we heard that the festival was going ahead, I thought Cannes was the best place to wear such a spectacular dress. It has a very artistic, feminine feel to it, as if that silver material has been poured over the lace. It’s almost more like a work of art than a dress, and that’s what I love about it."
A work of art it certainly is. According to Chanel, 322 hours of work went into creating the dress, which features three types of lace laid on double white silk tulle, with that mirror aluminium effect created by enclosing silicone in glass plates and heating it on the lace.
This level of detail and expert craftsmanship is what makes haute couture collections so impactful – and is something which Cotillard has grown to love more and more over the years for its limitless possibilities, she explains.
"Haute couture has always fascinated me because it’s much more than just fashion. It gives the designer, in this case Virginie [Viard], so much freedom to create because there are no limits. There’s something profoundly artistic about it, and it really expresses the designer’s personality."
The actress also praised the teams who work in Chanel's ateliers, saying she was "struck by their passion" and the energy they emit.
"I was also deeply touched by the emotion and joy of the seamstresses who made the dress I wore for Annette’s walk up the steps in Cannes," she said of last night's premiere. "It’s always quite a powerful moment, because all of a sudden they see the dress embodied, made to measure for the person who’s going to wear it, and everything finally makes sense."
It is a moment that the actress – and the whole team behind her new movie Annette – have been waiting for, and one which she is clearly overjoyed to finally be celebrating.
"I’m passionate about this festival and to come to this year’s opening with Annette, a film that invites people to experience a great cinematographic adventure, fills me with joy," she explained. "We’ve been waiting for a year to show this film, we were supposed to be in Cannes last year, so it is good closure to come back here and present it in a world that’s slowly coming back to life, with a desire and need for art."
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