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From Bella Hadid’s Keffiyeh Dress to Cate Blanchett’s “Watermelon” Moment, This Year’s Cannes Red Carpet Has Been Particularly Politically Charged

To be simultaneously confronted with images from the 2024 Cannes Film Festival and those documenting the bombardment of Gaza is a jarring condition of the social media age – one that’s clearly inspired certain celebrities to make a political statement on the Croisette this year.

cannes political

Bella Hadid in her Michael and Hushi dress. Photo: Getty

See Bella Hadid in a Michael and Hushi dress constructed from traditional keffiyeh scarves, Pascale Kann in a look from the Palestinian brand Trashy Clothing’s spring/summer 2024 collection, and Cate Blanchett in a Haider Ackermann X Jean Paul Gaultier dress that seemed to nod to the colors of the Palestinian flag when photographed on the red carpet.

cannes political

Note the green in Cate Blanchett’s train. Photo: Getty

“I’m doing my dream job and I’m getting to travel the world, but then I’m hyper-aware of what’s happening in Rafah at the moment,” Nicola Coughlan – who has been sporting the Artists for Ceasefire pin while promoting the third series of Bridgerton – said in an interview this week. “And I just feel like, if I have this global platform, which I do at the minute, then I can hopefully raise funds for aid organizations.”

The relationship between posing on a red carpet such as the one at Cannes and taking meaningful political action is, of course, complicated. The proliferation of Ceasefire pins at this year’s Oscars, for example, felt like a potent riposte to censorship, but I’m not sure Cara Delevingne’s “Peg the Patriarchy” statement at the 2021 Met Gala was quite as impactful. There are plenty of people who would argue that this form of celebrity engagement is a facile substitute for real protest, but in an era in which activism is increasingly mediated through the sharing of images online, “real” protest has become increasingly hard to define.

Below, revisit a handful of the most memorable examples of red-carpet activism through the years.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 2021
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez attended the 2021 Met Gala wearing a Brother Vellies gown featuring the words “Tax the Rich”. “The medium is the message,” she wrote on Instagram, but certain spectators considered it tone deaf. “Ultimately the haters hated and the people who are thoughtful were thoughtful,” she later said. “But we all had a conversation about taxing the rich in front of the very people who lobby against it, and punctured the fourth wall of excess and spectacle.” Photo: Getty

cannes political

Kristen Stewart, 2018
Kristen Stewart removed her Louboutins at the BlacKkKlansman premiere at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival in protest of the event’s retrograde dress codes and no-flats policy. “If you’re not asking guys to wear heels and a dress, then you can’t ask me either,” she said.
Photo: Getty

Ryan Gosling, 2005
In 2005, Ryan Gosling travelled to refugee camps in Chad – two years after war had broken out in the Sudanese region of Darfur. He wore a T-shirt raising awareness for its victims at the 2005 Teen Choice Awards. Photo: Getty

cannes political

Natalie Portman, 2020
At the 2020 Oscars, Natalie Portman wore a bespoke Dior gown embroidered with the names of female directors snubbed in that year’s most prestigious categories. Photo: Getty

Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain, 2018
At the 2018 Golden Globes, guests followed a strict all-black dress code to show solidarity with the Time’s Up movement. Photo: Getty

cannes political

Salma Hayek, 2014
At the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, Salma Hayek brandished a placard reading “#bringbackourgirls” while walking the red carpet at the Saint Laurent premiere. That hashtag referred to a social media movement founded on Twitter to bring worldwide attention to the girls abducted in Chibok, Nigeria, by Boko Haram. Photo: Getty

cannes political

Billie Eilish, 2024
At the 2024 Oscars, several guests echoed calls for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Palestine. Billie Eilish, Finneas, Mark Ruffalo, Ramy Youssef, Mahershala Ali, Ava DuVernay, and several other celebrities could be seen sporting small red pins courtesy of Artists for Ceasefire. Photo: Getty

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