Last updated: May 11, 2013 12:58 pm

The pavement as catwalk

For the A-list, dressing down is a serious business
Brigitte Bardot on the beach in Cannes©Getty

Brigitte Bardot on the beach in Cannes, 1956

The flashbulbs may be popping in the south of France but it’s not all about the red carpet. What Carey Mulligan (in town for The Great Gatsby and Inside Llewyn Davis), Nicole Kidman (on the judging panel) and Sofia Coppola (director of The Bling Ring) wear for press conferences, interviews and walks along the beach is far more influential than the statement gowns they show up in for premieres. Careers are now fashioned from sundresses, pencil skirts and even jeans as often as from a tuxedo or sequinned gown. And what better opportunity for efficient messaging than a film festival in the land of Brigitte Bardot?

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“In the past, film stars were unattainable beauties who we could only admire,” says Chloe Lonsdale, founder of MiH jeans, whose flared Marrakesh style (from £154) has become an off-duty staple for everyone from Katie Holmes to Jessica Alba.

“Today, actors have almost become a brand that we buy into. Knowing their off-duty style [notably more affordable than their premiere-wear] means that we can be a bit more like them.”

Not that they are ever actually off duty. With 24/7 media coverage and the explosion of street- style and celebrity blogs, there is always someone watching, ready to report on an actor’s sartorial triumphs or mishaps

“Things have changed over the years, with a move towards a more casual approach to dressing,” says David Neville, managing partner of fashion label Rag & Bone. “Stars recognise that, thanks to paparazzi and smartphones, they don’t have the luxury of privacy and lean towards looking effortless and real, as opposed to contrived or over-glamorised.”

Mary Katrantzou’s Babelona print cotton dress

Mary Katrantzou’s Babelona print cotton dress

Case in point: the picture of a dressed-down Kristen Stewart wearing Balenciaga print trousers at last year’s Cannes festival swept across style blogs, fashion websites and celebrity magazine covers. Off-duty dressing has become yet another weapon in the fashion/celebrity marketing machine, with the most stylish stars being given (paid) brand ambassador status and labels reaping the rewards of coverage.

By dressing down, stars become instantly more accessible to their fans. Consider the elevation of Diane Kruger and Kate Bosworth to A-list names and professional clotheshorses: the pavement is their catwalk, be it modelling Mary Katrantzou’s Babelona print cotton dress (£1,265) or Erdem’s Frida skirt (£645) twinned with a Simone Rocha shirt (£365).

“Ultimately these kinds of looks are more realistic for us,” says Laura Larbalestier, head buyer at Browns Fashion. “Although we love to see the stars dressed up, their off-duty looks are more set in reality.” And, ultimately, in our wardrobes.

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www.mih-jeans.com

www.rag-bone.com

www.balenciaga.com

Mary Katrantzou at www.brownsfashion.com

Erdem at www.harveynichols.com

Simone Rocha at www.net-a-porte.com

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