How Aishwarya Rai Bachchan's Cannes style reign went from glamour to gaffe

Superstar’s fashion journey, once celebrated, is now marred by missteps

Manahil Tahira May 19, 2024

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan's fashion evolution at the Cannes Film Festival has been a rollercoaster ride, but lately, it's like the tracks are heading downhill. Marking her debut in 2002, her style book is polarising with iconic looks within her comfort zone versus fashion mutinies that readily fizzled out. More so in recent years, the former Miss World’s saving grace has often been a dedicated fandom, courtesy of her interminable charm. 

However, the diva’s fetching smile can only distract from her steady fashion decline for so long. From her iconic debut in a traditional saree to her more recent experimental and often misguided choices, here is a rundown of how the Devdas starlet fell from glory at the Cannes.


Aishwarya's debut at the Cannes Film Festival in 2002 remains one of the most talked-about moments in fashion history. Her striking yellow saree was a bold, culturally significant choice that highlighted her Indian heritage on a global stage. This bright, luxurious yellow saree was host to intricate gold embroidery, adding a touch of glamour and sophistication. 

Complementing her saree with traditional Indian jewelry, including large gold earrings, a choker necklace and bangles, Aishwarya's look was completed with simple, elegant makeup and softly styled hair. This debut was a masterclass in blending traditional attire with global fashion sensibilities.


Fast forward to 2008 and the Guru actor’s fashion choices began to shift. She arrived on the red carpet in a fuchsia gown from Roberto Cavalli, featuring a plunging V-neckline, halter straps, and textured handkerchief detailing along the skirt. With her hair parted in soft waves, she looked elegant, but the gown marked a departure from the cultural homage of her debut.


At the premiere of Sleeping Beauty, Aishwarya embraced a more contemporary style. She wore a navy and white colour-blocked gown from Armani Privé. This gown, with its corset-like bodice and asymmetric hemline, paired with a sleek high ponytail and dark smokey eyes, marked a sophisticated yet somewhat restrained elegance.


The actor briefly recaptured some of her former glory with a textured dress from Georges Chakra. Adorned with small black floral appliqués and a matching black waist belt, the white gown was both modern and chic. Paired with elegant earrings and soft, loose hair, this look is an easy highlight amidst a series of less impressive choices to follow.


Only a year later, Aishwarya’s fashion would take a more experimental turn and not for the best. Flaunting a gown from Rami Kadi with intricate floral embroidery and an off-the-shoulder silhouette, the celebrity’s stylist got everything almost right. Unfortunately, her bold lavender lipstick clashed harshly with her otherwise flattering dress, creating a discordant look.


Come the 72nd edition of Cannes and Aishwarya's appearance in a feather-adorned gown from Ashi Studio continued her trend of questionable style choices. The ethereal all-white dress, layered with tulle, chiffon and lace, was decent but marred by heavy eye makeup and an imposing hairdo, which detracted from the ensemble's intended elegance.


Aishwarya attempted to merge art with fashion in a custom gown by Gaurav Gupta, inspired by Botticelli's The Birth of Venus. This pink, sculpted outfit, adorned with thousands of glass beads and crystals, was a delightful marvel of craftsmanship. Styled with neat waves and complementary makeup, this look was a notable success, standing out for its innovative design and elegance.


However, the next year saw another misstep with a shimmering silver gown from Sophie Couture. An oversized hood and large black bow failed to hit the mark, looking more like a costume than a red carpet gown. To her credit, the red lipstick was a success and painted her features in a sultry mood.


The pinnacle of Aishwarya's fashion missteps comes this year, with two divisive dresses Falguni Shane Peacock to blame. Wearing a black gown from the Indian designer on day one, the bold gold and white accents were enough to overwhelm the sense in a single glance. Cue the voluminous white sleeves and excessive gold detailing and Aishwarya ended up with a busy, unflattering ensemble. 

Even as the gown’s crowded train is more aptly described as a train wreck, it does nothing to prepare one for the disaster lying in wait. On day two, the Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam star turned up in a gaudy blue and silver ensemble. The structured silver bodice with exaggerated sleeves seemed intent on swallowing her in a gigantic cluster of shiny blue metallic ribbons. Even the trailing train, her stylist’s obvious darling this year, could not salvage her silhouette from the unflattering cut.

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