As the Oscars across the Atlantic, the Cannes film festival is known for eliciting a lineup of scene-stealing fashion and beauty looks. The comparison is apt for more reasons than one—crystallizing the unspoken philosophies of two culturally distinct red carpet worlds. In one camp: the Americans, a lineup of Hollywood stars like Elle Fanning, Julianne Moore, and Jessica Chastain that turn to polished, high-impact hair and makeup for the occasion; in the other, their French counterparts, a group of equally glamorous actresses whose artful beauty is marked by a certain undone insouciance.
A quick case study of each demographic is enough to clarify the distinction. In recent years, Gallic femmes like Mélanie Laurent and Lily-Rose Depp have embraced air-dried blonde waves, nearly natural pink lips, great skin, and simple swipes of mascara for their premieres. The same can be said of Aymeline Valade, Marine Vacth, Adèle Exarchopoulos, and Charlotte Gainsbourg, who elevate rumpled brunette lengths with generally bare faces and an attitude of nonchalance.
It’s a laid-back beauty that’s only highlighted by the slick, glossy allure of their American peers. Elle Fanning’s show-stopping lineup of looks turned her into this week’s breakout festival star, while Lily Collins channeled a roster of retro cool hair statements, and Jessica Chastain turned up the old Hollywood magic with smooth waves matched only by her commanding lips. Last year, Blake Livelyworked the bombshell factor of her signature mane to the maximum by pressing it into brushed silver screen waves, and Emma Stone’s all-American charm was heightened by a tousled chignon and flushed, rosy cheeks.
As this year’s festivities reach a crescendo, here are a few of our favorite French versus American beauty moments from recent years at Cannes.
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