Kristen Stewart may have had one of the best Cannes red carpet looks yet, and it wasn’t because of what she was wearing.
The actor, who is a member of this year’s Cannes Film Festival jury, arrived at the premiere for Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman in a long-sleeved metallic mini, but it was her Louboutin heels that ended up making a bigger statement. After posing for the cameras, Stewart reached down and pulled off her red-bottom shoes and walked up the stairs barefoot.
That one decision—where Stewart thought, Hmmm it’s raining a bit, maybe I don’t walk up these carpeted stairs perched atop a pair of toothpicks—was enough to march us back into the debate about what women are, and more importantly, are not, allowed to wear at Cannes.
While Cannes is actually a film festival, the fancy red-carpet attire has become a spectacle in itself. “Regarding the dress code for the red carpet screenings, rules have not changed throughout the years (tuxedo, formal dress for Gala screenings) and there is no specific mention about the height of the women’s heels as well as for men’s,” the press office said in a statement sent to FLARE.
The rules may not have changed, but according to Stewart, the times most certainly have. The actor has been outspoken about the Cannes dress code for years. “People get very upset at you if you don’t wear heels or whatever,” Stewart said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter last year. But she made it clear that she feels that these rules are irrelevant: “If you’re not asking guys to wear heels and a dress, you cannot ask me either.”
She further elaborated on her stance during a roundtable discussion that same year. “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?’” Stewart said, according to Marie Claire. “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.” (Plus, who says you can’t be super fancy and rock a pair of flats?)
Turning women away for not wearing toe-crushing foot stilts may sound archaic, but let’s not forget that it *actually* happened in 2015 at the Cannes screening of Carol. A group of women who were ready to walk the carpet into the Palais des Festivals were reportedly denied entrance because they opted for flats instead of heels. The incident prompted outrage online, and among female celebs at the festival who could relate that when it comes to spending an entire evening in heels, the struggle is very real.
“Everyone should wear flats to be honest,” actor Emily Blunt said when asked about the incident during a panel for her film Sicario. “We shouldn’t be wearing high heels anyways. That’s my point of view. I just prefer wearing Converse sneakers.”
And Stewart isn’t the only one who is not only talking the talk, but literally walking the walk. In 2016, Julia Roberts showed up to the Cannes red carpet in super-high heels but later removed them and strolled barefoot down the carpet. Actor Sasha Lane followed suit at the Cannes photo call for American Honey. And this year, Marion Cotillard also stomped on the film festival’s rule book by showing up to the red carpet for 335 wearing Nicholas Kirkwood flat boots.
All of this seems like a step in the right direction to us.