I was at a dinner party in Paris this past weekend and the topic of conversation turned to the 68th Cannes Film Festival which is currently happening in the south of France. One might suppose, therefore, that we were discussing boring intellectual stuff or the current whereabouts of Michael Moore but all we could get excited about was underwear – and boy did we get excited!
It all started with Sophie Marceau’s latest wardrobe malfunction and the debate that followed as to whether or not it was premeditated. Ms Marceau, a French actress, was climbing the stairs that lead to the Festival Theater (she is one of this year’s judges) and, as she was trying not to trip over her long, white dress, she lifted it. The dress, just like a curtain, opened to showcase her simple, nude-colored knickers.
The photographers were ecstatic and, in two seconds and two thousand camera clicks, her underpants were immortalized. Too bad the lingerie brand name was not sewn on the front – that would have been quite a cheeky publicity stunt!
Now, this was not the first time that Sophie Marceau’s wardrobe acted on its own, so to speak. In 2005, on the same carpet, one of her dress straps collapsed and the whole world could see her nipple. (Do you remember when that happened to Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl and she practically had to give a public apology? Well, no need for that in France. Nipples are normal here – no one gets all hot and bothered over seeing one – or at least they don’t admit it.)
There was also another film star who exposed her pink panties to the planet at Cannes. That was Diane Kruger, the German actress, who
was wearing a Dolce & Gabbana dress and, for some reason (a premeditated one, one might ask?), she was asked to pose for pictures on a wall. Her dress was short; the wall was high and voila! Her rose-colored knickers saw the light of day and the camera flashes of thousands of fans.
Nowadays, we call these underwear incidents wardrobe malfunctions but is that what they really are? They could be fashion statements; they could be publicity stunts; they could be accidents or they could be totally ignored. Why are we even highlighting these glitches when they happen? How about this for a thought? The Cannes Festival is 68 years old. Do you think that if an actress flashed her boob 30 years ago that would make headlines? Don’t you think that, out of respect for the actress, the photographers would have looked the other way?
Let me just give you an example. Imagine that, 60 years ago, Ingrid Bergman came to the Cannes Film Festival and her dress strap dropped. I know you’re thinking that she would have been wearing a bra but, seriously, would a photographer worth his salt actually publish a photo that would embarrass the actress?
Could you even think imagine that Ingrid Bergman would have a wardrobe malfunction on purpose? I think we would all agree that the answer to that is no…a definite no.
Wardrobe malfunctions are recent female star phenomena. This is hardly a male subject. The male outfits at Cannes are pretty standard and sometimes even too “relaxed”. But the men’s wardrobe “functions”. It doesn’t fall apart on the red carpet. It might fall apart during the after-parties but that’s a story for another blog.
The Cannes Film Festival women’s evening wear is plunging lower and lower and covering less and less. Transparency is in. Here’s a case in point. The day after flashing her underwear, Sophie Marceau showed up
in a sexy black dress that showed off her nipple — again. This time it was not an accident. This was just her wardrobe – functioning as she wanted it to function.
So, the point of all this? Who knows? I am just “what-if-ing” out loud. What if we didn’t care about private body parts going public on the red carpet? What if we just cared about film as an art form? What if we just cared about actresses as artists? What if the Cannes attendees had to wear a uniform? Would that be too weird? Maybe. But certainly not as weird as waiting for that stray nipple to pop out of nowhere and become almost as famous as its owner.