Move over the actors – what will the directors be wearing at Cannes?
When the Cannes Film Festival kicks off on May 17, the spotlight will be on the actors racing down the Croisette in bespoke dresses and suits. Less attention will be given to the style of the people behind the camera – producers and directors – but they too are often a rich source of fashion inspiration.
Claire Denis, the French author behind 1999 Good work and whose new film The stars at noon will premiere next week, tends to opt for leather jackets, sharp blazers and suits – sometimes metallic or printed – and Cuban heel boots, even on the red carpet. Also expect a statement from provocative Catalan director Albert Serra, who will premiere Pacification, about a diplomat in Tahiti. He has previously worn a cowboy-inspired vest, aviators and paisley scarves on the red carpet.
While they may not land in the magazines, the filmmakers who have soared haven’t gone completely unnoticed. In 2021, Los Angeles-based Hagop Kourounian created the Instagram account @directorfits as a tribute to the sartorial choices of movie visionaries.
The account has industry fans such as Jonah Hill, Natasha Lyonne and Jeremy O’Harris (“He was in my DMs begging me to post more Pasolini cuts,” Kourounian says of the playwright, on Zoom). “I’m very interested in the creative process, the brain of which comes from a film. . . you always see those accounts of movie actors wearing costumes, but if you look at directors’ wardrobes, you can often see a very personal line between their style and their movies.
An image of Sofia Coppola demonstrates this synergy. Shooting On the rocks in 2019, the director wears a blue masculine shirt (her favorite outfit on set, often by Charvet) with bottle green pants. Next to her Rashida Jones, playing a writer-daughter of a successful father, wears an identical pair.
Kourounian cites Wes Anderson as another example of this art-life parallel. Anderson’s signature look of corduroy suits and Clarks Wallabee shoes or loafers epitomizes the whimsical aesthetic of his films and is even replicated in his films. “It is worn in Fantastic Mr Fox – on the clay figure of George Clooney – and Bill Murray in The Royal Tenenbaums“, explains Kourounian.
David Lynch is also a distinctive costume wearer. When he wears them without a tie, with a white shirt buttoned up to the collar, the effect is slightly offbeat and truly Lynchian. Pedro Almódovar’s films – melodrama camp carnivals – included collaborations with designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier and Versace in the 1993 film Kika. Her own flamboyant looks are lessons in pattern and color. In the photo, he wore black jeans with a red and white vertically striped shirt, while at Cannes in 2019 he wore a moss green suit with a fuchsia scarf.
Directors’ personal styles tend to be more, well, personal — free from the expectations actresses have of looking conventionally chic. “My parents were both tailors, so from an early age it was clear to me that dressing up was a form of expression,” Janicza Bravo, director of A24’s Zolatold me by e-mail.
A former costume designer and stylist, Bravo describes her sartorial inspirations as “Jamaican dance hall, French new wave, shipmen, grandpas.” At Sundance in 2021, she wore a multi-colored sequined look consisting of striped pants, a sweater vest and Ashish pants with backless brogues and a distinctive white cuffed hat. For the Met Gala in New York earlier this month, she chose surreal Schiaparelli “toe” boots and a floppy top hat, and her Instagram bio reads “Dress up for your mental illness” – “J turned 41 this year and decided to go crazy,” she says.
The wardrobe of the late Belgian-born French director Agnès Varda – who died in March 2019 – was equally eccentric. “Agnès always dressed as she wanted, writes her daughter Rosalie to me from Paris: “A bit hippie chic, and brands never known.
Primarily buying her clothes from charity shops and on vacation, the director’s looks were a creative mix of different fabrics and textures – from polka dots to chinoiseries – with a predominantly purple palette (“The color of the bishops!” says Rosalie).
In her later years, Varda’s most distinctive style signifier was her two-tone pool cut hair, a silver crown formed by her gray roots. “It was a way of smiling as you got older and having a little humor.” Rosalie said. “People stopped him in the street: with your hair, we recognize you. . . and she smiled.
The Safdie Brothers, the duo behind cult hits, prioritize practicality over statement Uncut Gems and Good time, who wears a “normcore” uniform of Patagonia, Carhartt and New Balance sneakers. “They are just 100% themselves. . . I like that they wear normal brands – I could wear their whole outfit for $300,” says Kourounian. He also ironically appreciates the cuts of Quentin Tarantino, who wears Tony Soprano-style button-up shirts and Aéropostale t-shirts: “A brand your grandmother would buy you in college at the mall – but he wears it at Cannes.
However, one accessory stands out and could prove useful on the Côte d’Azur. Italian director Lina Wertmüller described her white glasses as her own “personal decor” and ordered them in bulk (minimum order was 5,000 pairs). love mood director Wong Kar-Wai is also never seen without his rectangular sunglasses, essential to his identity as a filmmaker. “When people see the glasses, they’ll know it’s director Wong Kar-Wai,” he said. China Daily in 2008. “Sunglasses are my ‘work clothes’. That’s all.”
Check out our latest stories first – follow @financialtimesfashion on Instagram