At Venice Film Festival, Female Directors Are Winning the Red Carpet

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As the first major film event to be held IRL since the pandemic began, all eyes have been on Venice Film Festival this week, where precautions have included socially distanced auditoriums, regular temperature checks, and plenty of face masks on the red carpet. With so many of the blockbuster releases that would usually ensure a steady stream of Hollywood megastars delayed, smaller, independent projects have been given the space to shine.

The unusual format for the festival has also meant a more unlikely group has emerged as the week’s standout style stars: the directors. Kicking things off in style last week was the legendary auteur Claire Denis, who is leading the jury for the Horizons section opposite Cate Blanchett, the president for the main jury. Attending a photocall on Wednesday, the 74-year-old filmmaker wore a two-piece suit featuring an ikat-style print in bold shades of pink and green and a pair of heeled Christian Louboutin boots. A playful and energetic spin on classic red carpet style, it was as noteworthy as any A-lister look.

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Then, on Saturday night, there was Gia Coppola, who attended the premiere of her influencer satire Mainstream, starring Andrew Garfield and Maya Hawke, in an opulent Gucci gown. (Coppola is a friend of the house’s creative director Alessandro Michele, and has also directed a number of short films for the brand.) With its kaleidoscopic colors, intricate beading, and tiers of chiffon, Coppola’s dress shone among the more subdued designs that bigger stars have tended to opt for this week. 

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Finally, there is French-Senegalese filmmaker Mati Diop, whose 2019 breakout film Atlantics—a supernatural love story set in the suburbs of Dakar—received overwhelming critical acclaim and saw her become the first Black female director to compete for the prestigious Palme D’Or at Cannes Film Festival and to win the Grand Prix. Aside from her talents as a filmmaker, Diop has proved to be a style star to watch over the past year. Mixing classic French fashion tropes with bold colors and textures, Diop’s eye-catching approach to dressing has seen her wear the likes of Balenciaga, Paco Rabanne, and Mugler on the red carpet, while also sitting front row at the Chanel show during Paris Fashion Week. 

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In support of her latest short film, In My Room, premiering as part of the Miu Miu Women’s Tales series, Diop served not one, but two show-stopping looks. At a photocall yesterday at Venice’s Palazzo del Cinema, Diop wore head-to-toe custom Miu Miu, including a striped sweater vest covered in glimmering paillettes and a pair of wide-legged trousers cinched at the waist by a jeweled belt, striking a perfect balance between expected red carpet glamour and her taste for a more relaxed style. Today, she arrived at the Excelsior Hotel wearing a blouse featuring a ribbon detail, high-waisted flared jeans, and a brown patent leather coat, topping the look off with an on-trend woven bag—another example of her ability to take classic red carpet pieces and lend them just the right amount of edge. 

Indeed, while many of these directors have honed their instincts on costuming for film across the years, it seems that they’re happy to show that their interest in fashion extends to their personal style too. But most cheeringly, perhaps, it serves as proof that those working behind the camera are more than capable of delivering major red carpet moments while the film industry finds its feet again.

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