Welcome to the world of Schiaparelli, where eyes are buttons, abs are belts, and lungs are shirts (well, technically, it’s a necklace, and the necklace is the shirt, so I’m just closing the loop). Obviously this was going to get a lot of attention no matter who wore it — the outfit is the story; the wearer, the canvas — but I am so amused that she went there, given that I do not generally classify Bella’s particular brand of getting attention as “whimsical.” It makes me like her. SHE WORE THE RESPIRATORY SYSTEM. And let’s be honest, she looks great in it. This was mutually beneficial camp: Both Bella AND Schiap got the spotlight, and in fact I think Bella is the exact right person for that gambit to work.
Yes, modeling is her job. Being the canvas is what she does for a living. But Bella is also more famous than the less Us Weekly friendly models who make Cannes their playground (the Taylor Hills/Candice Swanepoels/Izabel Goularts of the world), and so I think it’s making much bigger waves on her back than it would have on any of theirs. You don’t want a wearer who is TOO anonymous. But you also might not want one who is a dominant force. Like, I’m trying to imagine an actress wearing this, and whether their natural selves would have overshadowed it. On Cate Blanchett, we’d credit her carte blanchett. On SWINTON, we’d say, “Oh, well, that’s SWINTON for you.” I pondered for a second whether Kristen Stewart could carry something like this — sleek, body con, unfussy except for the alveoli, which give it a punk edge — and I still think the very fact of Kristen in it would be the story, rather than the dress itself. So here we might really have a perfect marriage between a celebrity and the clothes: someone just famous enough to ensure everyone sees this, but not so brimming with charisma and personality that it overshadows the brand that made it.
Seriously, when I looked at the closeup…
… I thought to myself, “Yow, she looks like her hair is pulled so tight that smiling is painful for her, but LET’S ZOOM IN ON THOSE ALVEOLI.”
It’s true that, at the first Cannes since a gnarly respiratory virus shut down the world, it MIGHT feel too soon to laugh at lungs. But it also might be a stirring ode to breathing. I would like to interpret it as the latter, just so Covid doesn’t seize any more of our communal mirth than it already has.