Venice Film Festival: Best fashion (and face masks) on the red carpet

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Written by Jacqui Palumbo, CNN

The red carpet at this year’s Venice Film Festival is proving to be unlike any before it, with celebrities arriving on the island of Lido in face masks and gowns to a muted reception.

The 77th edition of the festival is one of the first major cultural events to take place in Europe since the coronavirus pandemic took hold on the continent, with the Cannes Film Festival canceling its 2020 event in May.

“We are not proud to be the first, after the forced pause, to be able to do so,” said Roberto Cicutto, president of festival organizer La Biennale di Venezia, in an online statement. “But we are proud of having shown… that it can be done, putting in place all the safety measures and presenting a program that has little to envy those of the preceding years.”

Those safety measures include mandatory face masks, temperature checks, physical distancing during screenings and a wall built around the red carpet to keep the public away.

Though attendance was much sparser than in previous years, celebrities still touched down on the red carpet in style. Tilda Swinton, who is a Chanel ambassador, arrived at the opening ceremony in a white blouse and black crepe layered skirt from the brand’s Spring-Summer 2020 Haute Couture collection. The glimmering gold carnival mask she carried was later traded for a loftier gold object: the Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement, awarded to her during the event.
Tilda Swinton attends the opening day of the Venice Film Festival.

Tilda Swinton arrives for the festival’s opening ceremony and first screening holding a custom sea creature-inspired mask by artist James Merry. Credit: Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images

Actor and jury president Cate Blanchett greeted festival director Alberto Barbera by touching elbows, with both wearing masks. Blanchett paired hers with an Esteban Cortazar cape dress she had previously worn to the “Carol” premiere at the 2015 London Film Festival.

Elsewhere, model Taylor Hill hit the red carpet in an Etro crystal-embroidered floral chiffon gown, while Roberta Armani impressed in a vivid blue number from her uncle Giorgio’s namesake label.

The future of cinema

This year’s Venice Film Festival opened with the premiere of “Lacci,” a romantic drama directed by Daniele Luchetti. The movie, which is set in Naples and depicts a marriage on the brink, has been compared to Noah Baumbach’s 2019 hit “Marriage Story.” The festival will also see the premieres of movies including the Greta Thunberg biopic “Greta,” Pedro Almodóvar’s Swinton-led “The Human Voice,” the moody Frances McDormand road trip story “Nomadland,” and the period love story “The World to Come,” starring Vanessa Kirby, Katherine Waterston and Casey Affleck.

A brief history of the red carpet

On stage at the opening ceremony, festival director Barbera voiced his concern about the future of cinema, as the pandemic could give streaming services a further edge over theaters. “The feeling of watching a film on the large screen with other people is in the very nature of the film industry,” he said. “We have to support cinemas. Many are still closed today, others will never open again.”

While accepting her Lifetime Achievement award, Swinton emphasized the tenacity of the film industry: “To come to Venice, this year of all years, to celebrate immortal cinema and her defiant survival in the face of all the challenges that evolution might throw at her — as at us all — will be my sincere joy.”

This year’s Venice Film Festival is being held at the Venice Lido and runs from September 2-12, 2020.

Scroll through the gallery above to see the best looks from Venice Film Festival’s red carpet. The gallery will be updated throughout the event.

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