The 2017 Cannes Film Festival may be over, but its red carpet standouts will be revisited for years to come. This time, all eyes were on Elle Fanning. To promote her new films, Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled and How to Talk to Girls at Parties, the actress debuted an eclectic wardrobe that put her style in the spotlight. “We consider the Cannes red carpet to be the most important and fashionable of the year for the film industry,” says Samantha McMillen, Fanning’s stylist. “It’s a letdown if you don’t wear something really special, memorable, and important.” That meant a sartorial strategy that began and ended with custom designs, from a hand-painted Vivienne Westwood dress with a unicorn motif (Elle’s favorite mythical creature) to a lavender Rodarte princess gown for the grand finale.
“You have to have options, you know,” McMillen explains, referring to the 23 suitcases they brought to spend 10 days in the South of France. “Dress like you’re in the French Riviera—choose fun accessories and always have a great pair of sunglasses.” It took two months to craft the pitch-perfect getaway wardrobe, sending each other runway inspiration looks in between fittings. At a photo-call for How to Talk to Girls at Parties, for example, Fanning wore a Prada shift with a woman’s portrait screen-printed on the front and back, a nod to the film’s offbeat futuristic setting. They took a similarly considered approach to the premiere of The Beguiled. Fanning’s character, Alicia, wears lavender for much of the movie, and designers Laura and Kate Mulleavy wove the shade into that ball gown. “They put so much thought and heart and love into their designs,” McMillen says of working with the Rodarte sisters. “So unique and original—just like Elle.”
Though each look was tailored to the occasion, the common thread was a certain timeless appeal. Recalling the iconic photos of Cannes red carpets past, which line the halls of local hotels, McMillen says, “The goal for me is that if you do see her photo on the wall in years to come, it will stand the test of time.” Above, McMillen shares an inside look at how Fanning’s Cannes wardrobe came together with behind-the-scenes snaps on La Croisette and beyond.
See Elle Fanning’s First Cover Shoot for Vogue: