As Hollywood actors and writers remain on strike, some headed east, all the way to Venice to join in the always glamorous Biennale Cinema 2023, also known as the Venice International Film Festival. Now in its 80th year, the festival is always a heady melange of fascinating movies making their world premieres, all mixed in with haute couture fashion, both on the red carpet and at annual fetes given by the world’s top labels.
And while many of the red-carpet moments are, sadly, happening without the A-list actors attending (as they honor their union’s strike), this year’s festival still brought its A game to the fashion scene, and independent productions that secured an interim agreement saw the likes of Adam Driver, Jessica Chastain and Cailee Spaeny able to celebrate the premieres of their films in Venice while still on strike.
Join us for a look at what’s been on at the Biennale during the heady days (and nights) that have made early September on the Venice Lido a time to remember.
Haute couture at the 2023 Venice International Film Festival: (Left) Sidney Sweeney in Giorgio Armani, (Right) Kate Beckinsale in Georges Chakra. (German Larkin for Armani; Ryan Emberley for AmFar)
At the 80th Venice Film Festival
Leonie Hanne brings gorgeous glamour to the 2023 Venice International Film Festival’s red carpet for the film “Finalmente L’Alba,” wearing a custom-made gown by Woná Design, the Ukrainian family-run atelier. (Getty Images)
We’re devoted to Venice this week, with a special focus on fashion and its deep connection to this beloved festival. Certain independent films have been granted exceptions by the actors’ union for their stars to appear (read more about those below) and, as is always the case at the Venice Film Festival, fashion fetes and charity events take center stage during the festivities.
It’s always been a place to perhaps get a glimpse of the coming looks from the upcoming Spring 2024 Fashion Weeks (think New York, Milan, Paris, all happening in the next few weeks), as well as to see dazzling custom-made creations worn by the world’s most lovely women (and men, too).
Read on to catch some of our favorite looks of the season from the festival.
Carla Bruni’s spectacular Valentino look on the red carpet the Golden Lion Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2023 Venice International Film Festival
“Ferrari” World Premiere at the Venice International Film Festival
Adam Driver and Patrick Dempsey took advantage of SAG/AFTRA allowing them to promote director Michael Mann’s “Ferrari” at the Venice International Film Festival, with plenty of smiles for the cameras while wearing classic tuxedos.
But the female stars of Mann’s much-anticipated return to film directing after an eight-year hiatus stayed home, which meant no haute couture looks for Penelope Cruz, Sarah Gadon or Shailene Woodley; we’re hoping that changes as 2023 comes to a close, as early reviews look like “Ferrari” may just have a number of key awards nominations in its future.
“Priscilla” World Premiere at the Venice International Film Festival
Oscar-winning writer/director Sofia Coppola brought her newest film, “Priscilla,” to the Biennale, along with the biopic’s subject Priscilla Presley. The two women collaborated on the script that follows Priscilla’s early life with Elvis Presley. Already racking up rave reviews, “Priscilla” looks to breakout stars Caliee Spaeny (“Mare of Easttown”) and Jacob Elordi (“Euphoria”) as awards season really gets rolling.
At a press conference before the premiere, Priscilla Presley opened up about her life with the King, which began when she was just 14 and he was 24, saying, “I never had sex with him [then]. He was very kind, very soft and loving. He respected the fact that I was 14 years old.”
Time will tell if the public fascination with Elvis and Priscilla makes this film as popular as last year’s “Elvis”; so far all signs point to yes.
Giorgio Armani One Night Only Venezia
When Giorgio Armani sends out an invitation, people come running from all parts of the globe. So it’s no surprise that Hollywood’s best were front and center (and dressed in the master’s designs) for his “Giorgio Armani One Night Only Venezia” fashion show and party during the Venice International Film Festival. As 65 models walked the runway wearing Armani Privé haute couture at The Arsenale, the front-row seats were just jammed with famous faces.
From actors Jessica Chastain, Kerry Washington, Michelle Rodriguez, Sidney Sweeney, Kerry Condon, Maude Apatow, Regé-Jean Page, Benicio Del Toro, Jack Huston and the grand dame of them all, Sophia Loren, to directors like Ava DuVernay, Ang Lee and Luca Guadagnino, everyone came to see and be seen.
One Night Only is Armani’s moving feast, as the designer has now presented this special party in eight cities, including London, Tokyo, Beijing, Rome, New York, Paris, Dubai and now Venice. This time out it also celebrated Giorgio Armani’s love of cinema and his long-standing presence at the festival, as well as the appearance of his fashions in decades of film and television productions
Cartier Night of Celebration of the 80th International Film Festival of La Biennale di Venezia
Ca’ Giustinian, Venice, Italy
Cartier’s exclusive bash to commemorate the festival’s 80th birthday was a late-night party filled with Academy Award nominees and other fans of the legendary French jeweler. And most of the stars, including Isabelle Huppert, Yalitza Aparicio, Paul Mescal, Maude Apatow and Emma Corrin, wore the brand’s fine jewelry and watches to complete their sophisticated looks.
The highlight of the night was the music, as composer and two-time Oscar winner Justin Hurwitz (of “La La Land” and “Babylon” fame) led the Paris Jazz Big Band in a danceable concert featuring music from both those films.
Cartier also serves as the official partner of La Biennale, which means the big bash wasn’t the only event they put on; others during the festival included masterclass events and a popular free concert led by conductor Solrey.
amfAR Gala Venezia
Misericordia di Venezia, Venice, Italy
AmfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, drew a huge crowd to their fundraising gala held during the Venice International Film Festival, as supporters gathered to raise money to continue the fight against AIDS. Filmmaker Ava DuVernay (whose film “Origin” debuted at Venice) was honored with the organization’s Award of Inspiration, presented by her friend and fellow filmmaker Taika Waititi.
After a lively meal and silent auction, it was time for music, as Leona Lewis took to the stage, followed by Rita Ora, who both wowed the gathering of generous people, which included Milla Jovovich, Kate Beckinsale, Michelle Rodriguez, Carla Bruni, Luke Evans, Jesse Williams and a passel of others.
All gave freely, allowing amfAR to rake in over $2 million towards their cause, of funding the research needed to finally find a cure for AIDS, while also lending support for HIV prevention, treatment and advocacy.
South Coast Plaza, in partnership with its boutiques and restaurants, is pleased to support Angelitos de Oro, an auxiliary of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County and the Inland Empire for the 21st consecutive year. The Angelitos Card, a South Coast Plaza exclusive, entitles cardholders to save 20%* at more than 70 participating boutiques and restaurants during the week of September 21–27, 2023. *Some restrictions apply. See stores and restaurants for details.
Angelitos Cards are available for purchase at all South Coast Plaza Concierge locations and select boutiques through September 27, 2023.
Angelitos de Oro is an auxiliary of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County and the Inland Empire, raising funds to support the organization’s youth mentoring programs.