Only the most show-stopping, eyepopping glamour will do at the Cannes Film Festival, the world’s biggest fashion photo-opportunity.
And this year, Hollywood A-listers seeking to make a splash are taking their inspiration from the sea.
The red carpet has been dominated by dresses featuring a dramatic fishtail silhouette – figure-hugging around the bodice, waist and hips but flared out from the knee and finishing with a flowing train.
Black beauty: Spanish actress Paz Vega draws gasps in her daring monochrome Stephane Rolland gown with a keyhole bodice and skirt with a feathered fishtail
Timeless elegance: Jane Fonda, left, may be 74, but she looks decades younger in her shimmering Atelier Versace bronze gown, which shows off her tiny waist, while Eva Longoria, right, looks every inch the retro Hollywood siren in an Emilio Pucci creation
Catch of the day: Chinese actress Fan Bingbing pays homage to her heritage in a Christopher Bu gown
Stars including Eva Longoria and Jane Fonda have taken advantage of the effect the shape has on a woman’s figure, with Ms Longoria dazzling in a sleek white version with a plunging neckline by Emilio Pucci and Ms Fonda defying her years in a skin-tight bronze version by Atelier Versace.
Mermaid-style dresses, which were at their peak of popularity during the Hollywood golden era, began making a comeback at the Golden Globes in January, when a host of actresses including Reese Witherspoon and Rooney Mara turned up wearing the shape.
Now, with every big-name designer from Christian Dior to Vera Wang, Marchesa and Zac Posen featuring it in their collections, the fishtail frock has become the look of the year.
The style dates back to the Victorian era, when Charles Frederick Worth, the British designer known as the father of haute couture, made dresses with hems which skimmed the top of the feet at the front and flowed on to the ground at the back.
Topped and tailed: The previous night, the Desperate House stunned in a Marchesa fantasy
To bead or not to bead: Salma Hayek, left, maximises her assets in Gucci with beaded bodice and chiffon skirt, while Inglorious Basterds star Diane Kruger scales the heights in a billowing Giambattista Valli gown
During the Fifties it became the design that starlets including Jayne Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe chose when they wanted to showcase their curves with maximum impact.
The mermaid style is a look which oozes old-school glamour, and its comeback reflects the recent resurgence in demand for fashion which celebrates women’s bodies.
‘After years of the pencil-thin, androgynous silhouette being fashionable, we are seeing a welcome return of a more womanly shape in Hollywood,’ says fashion expert Karen Kay.
‘Fashion is reacting to the changing mood, with designers responding to the demand for dresses which celebrate curves with the dramatic fishtail skirts we’ve seen in Cannes.’
Making a nude impression: Israeli model Hofit Golan in skin-colour ballgown by Jean Fares Couture
Chiffon chic: Naomi Watts is a study in understated elegance in a Marchesa dress covered with feather-studded bodice and cascading chiffon skirt
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