There were some seriously high-octane fashion moments at this year’s Cannes Film Festival – Bella Hadid in a dress which seemed to confound the laws of physics, Kate Moss making a triumphant red carpet return in vintage Halston and Amal Clooney breezing along the Croisette in fairytale Versace.
But for consistency at Cannes, no one got it better than juror Kirsten Dunst. From a modern take on the skirt suit to glittering gala gowns, she reprised her role as worth watching style wise.
Working behind the scenes to make Dunst’s Cannes style spotlight a success were stylist sisters Nina and Clare Hallworth, who as well as working with the actress for several years have also been behind the style evolutions of Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon.
The duo worked for months on a series of special collaborations with designers to ensure that Dunst’s Cannes look was “a nostalgic homage to a grand time in Hollywood and a way things used to be done.”
To make that ambition a reality, the Hallworth duo mined retro Cannes footage and designer archives. Here they reveal the backstory behind each of Kristen Dunst’s looks.
The yellow Dior dress created with a little help from their mum
“We believe in an old school approach and so does Kirsten,” says Nina. “Clare and I did a lot of research and we knew that we wanted Dior for Cannes. It seemed most fitting. We found The Diorama dress from Mr Dior’s Autumn-Winter 1947 couture collection and we knew that Kirsten’s nostalgic sensibilities would do justice to reinterpreting his earlier work.”
The pair approached Dior, who loved the idea. “From the moment we approached them, they immediately started sending fabrics, sketches. It was a true Dior Couture experience – grand, romantic, exceptional and months in the making. Our mother – who trained in textiles and grew up in the North of England coveting Dior’s New Look – selected the fabrics at Kirsten’s request.”
On Kirsten choosing an up-and-coming label for her first Cannes look
“Aouadi was intriguing because he has a bit of that rebel spirit, bucking safe simple fashion for elaborate details that harken to a different time. We are all on the same page, Kirsten’s style looks back and reinterprets to look forward…creating a narrative that is all her own.”
On the Marc Jacobs dress covered in dancers
“That dress was for an evening event, covered in ballerinas so we called it “The Tiny Dancer.” It was made for Kirsten as she has a long history with Marc Jacobs and he captured the spirit of what she wanted immediately.”
Retro-inspired accessories made her daytime looks unique
“Every detail counted in Kristen’s look,” says Nina. “Her Oliver Peoples glasses were classic in Blond and Black. The shoes were mostly original Salvatore Ferragamo designs from 1935 to 1947 and felt improbably modern. As was her bamboo bag. They were all designed by Mr Ferragamo at a time during the war when leather was scarce. He used bamboo, straw and fishing line; scarcity didn’t stand in the way of creativity and ingenuity ruled the day. These styles were worn by Garbo, Loren, Monroe and Hepburn.”
The white Dior dress with the feel of Lauren Hutton in her heyday
“The white dress was one of a trio we had made, but it was the one that was the most unexpected and quintessentially Christian Dior. They used the original archival pattern and his creative talisman – the Lily-of-the-Valley. The tulip skirt, the corset, traditional fabric and the handmade lilies in three different forms were all exceptional. We removed the crinoline which gave it a softer, more negligent feel evocative of Lauren Hutton in her heyday and worn so confidently by Kirsten that it seemed to transcend eras.”
The dress created by British designer Michael van der Ham
“Sometimes there are artists that come onto your radar and they are on your page without that familiarity of the established fashion houses and that is very exciting. Michael van der Ham presented the same old school artistry we were craving, a true couture dress with all the layers of love in every stitch – hand-made, laboured, perfect…”
On the elegant skirt suit plucked from the Chanel catwalk
“We saw that suit coming down the Chanel runway in Havana and made an immediate request for 2 looks as the show was in progress, so perfect were they for Kirsten,” remembers Nina. “amfAR is a precursor to parties on yachts throughout Cannes. Kirsten wanted to move about easily, chic and self-assured from yacht to yacht. The more masculine look divined Coco’s aesthetic and Kirsten had an ease about her that night that was palpable. Her jewellery from Fred Leighton was grand but subtle, the entire look was youthful and confident.”