The most buzz on the internet, however, seems to be around the starry appearances on the red carpet. The who’s who of the entertainment industry put their best fashion foot forward for the gala event and those with the most audacious outfits make the most headlines. They become the talk of the internet town and the netizens don’t shy away from sharing their two cents about the red carpet fashion, no matter how limited or broad their knowledge about style is.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan who is a regular at Cannes made several heads turn and take notice of her various outings at Cannes. The one that took the cherry on the cake was her sparkling silver gown from the Sophie Couture label. The dress had a structured giant hood that covered her head, and an oversized black bow at the waist that brought it together. The look received a mixed reaction, but nevertheless, Ash grabbed a whole lot of eyeballs with her audacious appearance. Famous personalities like Shobhaa De, Nandita Das, Sharib Hashmi among many others had something to say about Aishwarya’s choice of outfit which many felt was a misfit for a festival like Cannes.
Not long ago even Alia Bhatt’s debut appearance at a Seoul fashion event became the talk of the town for an empty transparent handbag. Deepika Padukone, Priyana Chopra, Urvashi Rautela, Hina Khan and many others are often scrutinised for their eccentric fashion at international events.
In today’s #BigStory, we attempt to decode the new internet fad of critiquing celebrity fashion, the emergence of a new breed of ‘fashion experts’ on the internet and what makes celebrity fashion such a hot topic of discussion, how commercialisation and branding is contributing to this fashion trend and whether film festivals are losing their essence amidst all this commotion around red carpet appearances. Read on.
‘Main bhi fashion expert’
In today’s age of the internet, where anyone and everyone can share their opinion about anything and everything under the sun and moon, there is no dearth of self proclaimed ‘fashion experts’ who have a say on every celeb outfit.
Content creator Masoom Minawala has been making her presence felt at Cannes over the past few years. “Everyone’s a fashion critic,” she agrees. “ The internet has allowed everyone to be one. But as an artist, your work should not be deterred by what others have to say. I might have an opinion on Aishwarya Rai’s outfit but quite frankly, what that opinion is, is irrelevant. Being an artist myself, I know the process of creating something. You create from your own experiences, your own visions, and your own goals – sharing your art with the world is a part of the job. But letting the world control your art with their opinions is the biggest mistake you can make.”
“Not everyone is a fashion expert, yet they often feel entitled to comment on the outfits of celebrities as if they possess expert knowledge in the field,” says filmmaker GK Desai. “It is important to recognise that fashion expertise requires a deep understanding of design, trends, materials, and various other aspects that contribute to the art of clothing. While everyone is entitled to their opinions and preferences, it is crucial to differentiate between personal preferences and genuine expertise. It is crucial to acknowledge that not everyone possesses expertise in fashion, and their opinions on celebrity outfits should be taken with a pinch of salt.”
Fashion designer and celebrity stylist Reza Shariffi thinks one need not criticise the stars. “They are doing their job,” he says. “The slightly offbeat the outfit, the more eyeballs you catch. So there is nothing wrong with it. They wear something unique rather than wearing a conventional garment and just going there, that’s seen and done with. People who have an eye for fashion, they’ll only understand what a person is wearing. And to a layman, it might feel like, ‘Oh, what a weird outfit they are wearing’. Those clothes are not weird because whoever created them, they must have made them with a lot of thought. And if you wear normal clothes or saree or anything, it looks like a normal outfit. You can’t keep making people happy in any way. Either way, you’ll always be criticised.”
Are film festivals losing the essence?
With celebrity red carpet appearances at film festivals hogging the limelight, the core topic of films get overshadowed and there is not as much conversation around movies as is around fashion. “It is essential to understand and respect the purpose of film festivals,” says GK Desai. “Film festivals serve as platforms for filmmakers to showcase their artistic creations and celebrate the world of cinema. They are intended to provide a space for filmmakers to exhibit their work, engage in discussions, and receive recognition for their achievements. Fashion, although present at these events, should not overshadow the primary focus on the films and the talent behind them. It is essential to maintain the integrity of film festivals by prioritising the filmmakers and their creations, rather than turning them into platforms solely focused on fashion and brand endorsements.”
Actress Meera Chopra attended Cannes last year to showcase her film Safed. She believes from her experience that the festival has just become a red carpet fashion show for many. “When I went to Cannes last year with my film ‘Safed’, from a PR perspective, the entire pressure was on what I am going to wear at each event,” she shares. “It became nonsense after a point, that I told my stylist I can’t be concentrating on clothes when I have a chance and platform to do my homework on whom I should meet and network with to broaden my horizon. Believe me it’s only the Indian media that has gone crazy on fashion when it comes to Cannes and has totally forgotten what it is really known for. We need to start talking about films rather than what is being worn by whom.”
Is commercialisation to blame?
While discussions around celebrity fashion at film festivals take centrestage, one cannot deny the fact that it is the celebs and the brands they represent that draw attention towards the events. As Reza pointed out, these are carefully devised marketing tactics that draw attention towards the celebs and the brands, and top designers of the world are employed to design the red carpet looks for their brand ambassadors.
“It’s important to note that film festivals have always been a blend of art and commerce,” explains Masoom. “They serve as a meeting point for the film industry, providing opportunities for networking, distribution deals, and collaborations. The presence of top brand ambassadors and their fashion choices can also bring attention to the films and help generate interest and support for the industry as a whole… Let’s not forget that.”
“It’s exactly how before school sports day, there is a march past or there is something like that,” explains Reza. “Like it’s a fashion thing. People are there to showcase. Everybody over there is a creative person. Besides, film festivals also depend on brands. Brands bring in the eyeballs and representation also. When Aishwarya walks in a hoodie gown, she’s being talked about. The more quirky the outfit, the more it will be talked about. Also if it’s a brand involvement or a brand’s diktat, what can the actors do? Lady Gaga has been talked about over the years because she wears quirky clothes. She’s known for it. She’s known for her quirkiness. And to each his own. Whatever the person likes, who’s comfortable in it, the better they wear that. It’s up to them.”
“While celebrities often grace the red carpet during film festivals, their choice of outfits should not overshadow the achievements of the filmmakers and the films being showcased,” says Desai. “It is important to recognise that these events are not meant to serve as brand endorsement stages for fashion brands. Instead, they should be celebrated for the creative and thought-provoking works of art that they represent.”
Filmmaker and trade analyst Girish Wankhede says film festivals and glamour go hand in hand. “It’s the age-old practice of stars to adorn the red carpet glitter by standing out in their most outlandish outfits. Cannes does not only promote and encourage the best of cinema business but also boasts of a commercial market for various brands to amplify their visibility. Thus, it becomes handy for the stars to find sponsorship in brands and promote their films. This year’s Cannes is no novel to this gimmick. We ought to be more liberal and accepting towards this commercialisation as it serves the purpose of a film and a filmmaker. Also the quality of cinema and cultural exchange is still intact, so a bit of eye-rolling contrivance is unapologetically admissible.”
“Yes, it’s a fad. And I don’t blame anyone – it’s fun. It’s fun to sit nameless behind a computer screen or mobile and post comments!” sums up Masoom Minawala.