Spanish actress Victoria Abril Image Credit: AFP

The Cannes film festival — which starts this week — is famous for glamour and glitz. With the festival celebrating it 70th anniversary, we look back at some of the actresses who have lit up the red carpet:

‘La Lollo’ vs Sophia Loren

In the late 1950s, two curvacious Italian actresses competed for the attention of rowdy paparazzi: Gina Lollobrigida, affectionately known as “La Lollo” by fans, and Sophia Loren, born Sofia Scicolone.

The press revelled in their supposed public rivalry and Cannes became a key battleground where the divas competed for the eyes and imaginations of film buffs.

Loren gained the upper hand in 1962 when she won the best actress Oscar for Two Women by Vittorio De Sica.

Even so, she still had to compete at Cannes with other rising Italian stars — Claudia Cardinale, Monica Vitti and Silvana Mangano — for attention.

Brigitte Bardot

Then an unknown, Brigitte Bardot first appeared at Cannes in 1953 and caused quite a sensation, lounging on the beach in a bikini while Kirk Douglas plaited her hair.

Fourteen years later the French star returned as an international sex symbol for the festival’s closing ceremonies in May 1967 where she was to pay tribute to Swiss actor Michel Simon, the night’s guest of honour.

But photographers battled each other amid a massive crowd trying to catch a glimpse of “BB” as she enter the auditorium.

Police had to fight to clear the way for Bardot as her husband Gunter Sachs pleaded for the crowd not to crush her.


At the height of her fame in 1991, the US icon came to Cannes to present her documentary Madonna: Truth or Dare.

Holed up in the five-star Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, she stopped traffic on the winding roads of Cap d’Antibes for her daily 15-kilometre run — surrounded by 15 bodyguards.

On the night of the screening, a crowd of at least 10,000 onlookers gathered in front of the Palais des Festivals to try to catch a glimpse of the star, whose limo inched through the crowd.

Chaos ensued as Madonna, wrapped in a pink cloak, strolled the red carpet, before halting, turning and revealing the cream conical bra designed by Jean Paul Gaultier she wore underneath.

A female television presenter was thrown to the ground live on-air, as were several photographers.

Sharon Stone

In 1992, the festival opened with the whodunnit Basic Instinct, an erotic thriller by Dutch director Paul Verhoeven.

The main female role — a novelist who stabs her victims with an ice pick while engaged in acrobatic sex acts — was played by US star Sharon Stone.

Completely at ease and oozing glamour, Stone, up to then known for just secondary roles, caused a minor riot among cameramen as she ascended Cannes’ red carpet in a low-cut gown.

Stone became a regular feature at Cannes, turning her into a worldwide star.

Sophie Marceau

In 2005, French actress Sophie Marceau made headlines across with world when the knot of her dress’ shoulder strap came undone, revealing her left breast, as she climbed the palace steps.

Marceau quickly re-tied the knot, but the image had already been captured by a handful of photographers. Their shots ranked among the most expensive photos sold that year.

Ten years later, the star accidentally flashed the nude underwear she wore underneath her shift gown as she again climbed the palace steps.