Soggy in Venice: How Stylists Navigate the Rainy Weather

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Lady Gaga said she almost became a "wet Big Bird" after it started raining ahead of the 2018 'A Star Is Born' premiere in Venice.

From getting in and out of taxis to walking the red carpet during a summer downpour, dressing for the very wet world of the Italian canal city can be a slippery task — especially in formal attire.

The Venice Film Festival's natural environs and its late-summer dates mean attendees likely will be confronted with one of Mother Nature's fiercest forces — water. Venice's historical acqua alta (high water) events can inundate parts of the lagoon later in the fall, but festival participants have been hit with early previews caused by sudden rainstorms that have sent them scrambling for higher ground.

Former CBS Films exec Scott Shooman became stranded after a Vice party when it stormed so hard that boats stopped operating. "The water taxi phone numbers all hung up on me when I called," he remembers. "I could see my hotel across the canal. Almost swam it. Three and a half soaking hours later I found a bridge and made my way home." Next time, he says, he'll "pack a poncho."

Venice veterans are well aware of the potential of water peril on the lagoon. Naomi Watts, who served as a festival juror in 2018 and has attended multiple times, asked her longtime stylist, Jeanann Williams, to keep her footwear appropriate for long screening hours and water travel. Williams styled her in flats, boots and platforms, because Venice isn't stiletto friendly. "It's grueling, it's hot and [you are] on and off boats," Williams told The Hollywood Reporter.

"Boots are great," says costume designer and style author Luke Reichle, who says to approach Venice like any other place where one might get stuck in a downpour. He doesn't recommend packing full-on galoshes, but perhaps a pair of fun mid-calf water-resistant boots, such as Valentino's Rockstud rain boots ($475), which can be dressed up or down.

In a pinch, he adds, disposable gaiters are sold in Venice when it floods. "They're like plastic sleeves that go over the shoes and up to the knee."

Former WME agent turned executive style consultant Andrew Weitz suggests waterproof sneakers, loafers or boots from Swims. "All are meant for the water," he says, but they pass as regular shoes. Jeanne Yang, who styled Roma director Alfonso Cuarón for Venice last year, recommends Tod's Gommino shoes with rubbery balls on the soles. "They're invaluable when the carpet is slippery and wet," she says.

But how does one keep dry above the shoes? For potentially wet — but also hot — weather, "finding a chic rain cover for a dress or suit is the holy grail," says Reichle. An easy-to-pack and affordable option is Uniqlo's mens Blocktech single-breasted coat ($99.90), which can be worn by both men and women. He adds that a simple, lightweight Burberry car coat is always a good option, too, "but you have to look good in beige."

Reichle is a fan of Gucci's nylon reversible poncho ($750) — "you should be allowed in first class if you have one of these" — but adds that the voluminous garment needs to be worn with caution. "A great way to wear a poncho is to belt it in front and let it billow out in back. You don't want to completely let it out because it looks like you're wearing a garbage bag."

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What to Pack to Stay Dry (And Upright)

Ferragamo

For a high-water platform, check out these cork-soled sandals ($1,190).

Gucci

Costume designer Luke Reichle says finding the right rain cover, like this floral-print trench coat ($3,500), is "the holy grail."

Swims

This waterproof lace-up ankle boot ($250) is ideal when confronted with flooding streets in Venice.

Zegna

Style consultant Andrew Weitz suggests a lightweight tech-fiber coat ($1,395) "that is chic enough to go over any look."

This story first appeared in the Aug. 21 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.