Pants! Flats! Red-Carpet Rebels Rule at Cannes

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From left: Victoria Beckham, Susan Sarandon and Kristen Stewart

#Flatgate dead? Victoria Beckham, Susan Sarandon and Kristen Stewart prove that glamour doesn't always have to come in the form of a glitzy gown or sky-high stilettos.

Cannes kicked off May 11 with an expected parade of custom gowns, glittering diamonds and incessant flashbulbs. But long before the first frame of Woody Allen’s Cafe Society lit up the screen, it was clear that 2016 is a brand-new year.

The red-carpet-draped steps of the Palais provided a backdrop for such stars as Victoria Beckham and Susan Sarandon to buck tradition as both stepped out wearing ... pants! The designer wore her own creation, a tuxedo-inspired black-and-white bustier with high-waisted trousers, which she complemented with Chopard diamond bracelets. It was Sarandon, however, who brought the laid-back cool in a black pantsuit, white button-down and dark sunglasses. The piece de resistance? A pair of black flats, which were a not-so-subtle nod to last year’s Flatgate controversy when attendees were turned away for not wearing high heels.

Stars always play by their own rules in Cannes, but festival head Thierry Fremaux admits to THR that last year’s brouhaha won’t see a sequel. "It was unacceptable from the security people, but there are 2,000 people and one guy decided to do that, and we didn’t know until the day after," says Fremaux. "We changed it, for sure."

Indeed, a member of the Societe de Protection et de Securite Palais (SPSP) — the official guards of the Palais — tells THR that guards are now instructed to look at overall "presentation." (For the record, security personnel also seems more relaxed about last year’s selfie ban, too, allowing opening-night attendees plenty of time for personal pics before suggesting they move along.)

Nailing the presentation mandate were Blake Lively in a sparkly Atelier Versace with cutouts and Lorraine Schwartz earrings, Naomi Watts in lavender Armani Prive and Chopard jewels, Julianne Moore in Givenchy Couture and Chopard jewelry, and Jessica Chastain in curve-hugging yellow Armani Prive with Piaget jewelry. Kristen Stewart, with two films here including Cafe Society, stepped out in Chanel (a sheer top and full patterned skirt) but changed for the afterparty into a belly-baring white T-shirt, mini skirt and checkered sneakers, topped off with a black biker jacket.

The quick change surely would please French fashion icon Ines de la Fressange, who believes fashion shouldn’t be about rules. "Style is an attitude," says the face of Roger Vivier, who has worn flats on the Cannes carpet several times. "Some of the greatest stars of Hollywood, all-time stars like Greta Garbo, Ingrid Bergman and Katharine Hepburn, were addicted to flat shoes. People should understand being sexy, glamorous, beautiful is not linked to the size of your heels."