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Cannes Palais Intrigue: Which Star Will Win the Dress Wars This Year?

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At last year's fest, Cate Blanchett worked her back, showing a hint of skin amid riotous color in a Givenchy fall 2014 gown with an embellished bodice and pleated skirt.

A-list vets Cate Blanchett and Marion Cotillard will be joined by a slew of fashionista stars as stylists spill the secrets of what stands out in at the festival.

This story first appeared in the May 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

For weeks now, the great gown rush of Cannes has been in high gear. This year, a perfect storm will converge at the 68th festival, with a lineup of fashion all-stars such as juror Sienna Miller, Cate Blanchett, Emma Stone, Marion Cotillard, Naomi Watts, Charlize Theron, Natalie Portman, Salma Hayek, Rooney Mara and Emily Blunt. "It's crazy how star-studded the carpet will be," says a celebrity liaison for a major European label. "It's beyond the expectations of the Oscars. We are building custom pieces and bringing the best collection pieces no one's seen."

Miller and Stone are Cannes rookies, but the rest are fest vets accustomed to wowing the tough Palais crowd. How to stand out? "By understanding the dramatic spirit of Cannes," says fashion historian Bronwyn Cosgrave. "Blanchett did this in 2010 when she opened the festival in a gown emblazoned with a phoenix by Alexander McQueen, who had recently passed away." For Miller, topping 2014 juror Nicole Kidman won't be easy; her stylist, Kate Young, also working with Portman, will have a full plate. Recalls Anna Bingemann, stylist for 2012 juror Uma Thurman: "It's two outfits a day: cocktail and day and a multitude of gowns. You can't leave anything to chance." With her chic high-necked black Oscar de la Renta at the 2015 Academy Awards, it's clear that Miller is past her boho days ("Becoming a mother, she's more refined and elegant," says makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury) — and that advice from a certain Vogue editor ("Anna helped me!" said Miller before the Oscars) has paid off. Tanya Gill, stylist to Jane Fonda, 77, who often steals Cote d'Azur thunder from those 50 years her junior, breaks it down: "Color is one way to stand out; another is to work with new designers so you'll have a dress unlike any other."

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With Dior showing resort 2016 on the French Riviera on May 11, brand ambassador Cotillard likely will wear pieces straight off the runway (or even from July's couture show). How will fellow Dior face Theron fare if Cotillard gets first pick of the collection? Stylist Leslie Fremar always brings it for the Mad Max: Fury Road actress; while Cotillard favors structure and drama, Theron goes for understated, sexy and soft — ensuring her face and body are at the forefront. Stone, for whom Petra Flannery is compiling a wardrobe, no doubt will shine by continuing her awards-season streak of unusual shapes, lengths, hemlines and fabrics from her two favorite French houses, Lanvin and Dior. Cannes fashion documentarian Fabien Constant says Stone has the markers of rising above the crowd, as she dares to don "real fashion [with] complexity and modernity."

Wild card Watts wears a range of designers with increasingly sexy aplomb; metallic is the Sea of Trees actress' go-to for grabbing the spotlight (note her molten Armani Prive at the 2013 Oscars). "There are so many girls wearing long trains, a body-conscious, sexy Hollywood dress really stands out in Cannes," says a fashion insider. Of course, Hayek — wife of Francois-Henri Pinault, CEO of the fest's first fashion sponsor, Kering (parent of Gucci, Saint Laurent, Balenciaga) — will be the queen of Cannes. All eyes will be on the Tale of Tales star's famous figure and sense of color, plus she'll be in couture all the time — even for lunch at the du Cap.

Yet few get Cannes better than Carol star Blanchett. "She's one of those people who can carry anything with an innate confidence," stylist Elizabeth Stewart tells THR. As for her co-star Rooney Mara, stylist Ryan Hastings will have hit up Givenchy for a major black-and-white wardrobe. "She always takes chances, and you can't not look at her," the label's Riccardo Tisci tells THR. With the actresses side by side at the Carol premiere, it'll be the battle of the individualists — and the fashion photo op of the fest.



Emma Stone, Salma Hayek, Sienna Miller, Naomi Watts, Rooney Mara

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