Fashion Sightseeing at Cannes

By Katherine Scott

Cars on la Croisette
Fast cars line Cannes’ promenade La Croisette

As one of the French Riviera’s chicest resort towns, Cannes is a fashionable destination at any time of year. In the summer it buzzes with tourists craving a little high-end fun in the sun, and even in the off-season, Cannes is a label-lovers’ dream. The premiere event on the Cannes social calendar is, of course, the Festival de Cannes, which attracts cinema’s biggest names and most stylish stars each May.

Over the years, the film festival’s famous red steps have served as a backdrop for fashion icons such as Brigitte Bardot, Grace Kelly and Sophia Loren. Today, Cannes’ red carpet is still a coveted space for designers looking to unveil their latest collections (Gucci debuted the Première Collection here on Salma Hayek in 2010) and is closely watched by the world’s top fashion magazines.

While the indoor screenings are strictly invite-only, everyone can enjoy the outdoor Cinéma de la Plage, where a different film plays each night of the festival. Over at the Palais des Festivals, serious celeb-watchers stake out their spots along the red carpet barricades hours before the top screenings. If crowds aren’t your thing, try your luck along the Promenade de la Croisette, where you’ll find Bugattis and Lamborghinis parked in front of some of Cannes’ most star-studded bars and hotels.

Stars who prefer to stay out of the limelight regularly favour villas in the French Riviera. Perched high above the cost, these private enclaves offer the perfect place for a post-screening celebration, far away from the paparazzi and complete with private pools and staff.

Champagne cocktails, French Riviera
Celebrity-spotting over champagne cocktails

So what to wear for all of this fashion sightseeing? Designer sunglasses are a must for the beach, and come in handy when you’re scanning passersby (was that Johnny Depp?!) from your beachfront table. In the French Riviera, May can be warm enough for a swim, (or at least sunbathing) so be sure to bring a fashionable selection of swimwear and reserve a prime sun lounger along the beach. If your vacation budget won’t stretch to designer boutique prices, you can’t go wrong with clothes in a nautical-inspired blue and white palette. Last but not least, be sure to pack a selection of party dresses, just in case you secure a spot at one of Cannes’ champagne-fuelled fêtes!

Cannes fireworks
Fireworks seen from La Croisette

About the author: Katherine Scott is a fashion-lover, traveler and editor of the Luxury Retreats travel blog. She last visited the French Riviera in 2010 on a week-long girls’ getaway with her younger sister.

Yacht-party centra: the Port de Cannes


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