For over a decade now Aishwarya Rai has been walking the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival — this year is no exception.
The star is set to walk the Cannes red carpet this week, starting tonight, along with a few other Bollywood actresses and faces of mega beauty brand L'Oreal.
Yet despite her longevity at the fest, Aishwarya has faced the wrath of fashion critics year after year. Why? We examine all her Cannes looks from times past and break it down.
Aishwarya made her Cannes debut in 2002 alongside Shah Rukh Khan. This is right around the time Devdas came out, remember?
One could say she won in the accessories department, after all, who wouldn't want SRK has your main man? Still, her uber ethnic look, a yellow Neeta Lulla sari, drew criticism. We can see what people might have a problem with: the look is more 'wedding' than red carpet glam, and the heavy gold jewelry is slightly OTT.
Still, we rate this as a pretty successful look. Aishwarya made no apologies for her Indianness and we can always applaud that.
Aishwarya faltered this year. We can't pick a single look from 2003 that we love, though we're tied when it comes to the worst offender: that green sari (Neeta Lulla again) with a long bustier.
The looks she sported weren't flattering on their own and didn't cohere with her accessories either. Now, keep in mind that this is well before every single star had a stylist and an Instagram feed, so a few fashion faux pas are to be expected. But still, none of these looks is a win for us.
Next year wasn't too much better.
Aishwarya squeezed into this silver spangled cut-out gown, again by Neeta Lulla, and the dress didn't do her any favours. Not only was the dress itself slightly slipshod with its ill-conceived cut away panels... it didn't flatter Aish's figure either.
Finally, a hit!
Aishwarya's floral number worked wonders. We're not fans of her black dress - it's sheer details are too forced - but her white floral is effortless. We do have one gripe though: lose the black stole.
Aishwarya stopped just short of making smarter sartorial choices this year. Eschewing glamour, she showed up in playful outfits like this floral number during the day, and returned in the night in a classy black gown. We only wish it didn't surround her crotch in frills. Cringe.
Ash may have thought to keep it classy in white, but who told her to match her eyelids to her dress? Who? Also, the choppy side bangs... not good.
This year, Aishwariya went on a colour spree...with tragic consequences. It cemented the status of magenta in our minds as a no-no on the red carpet, and reminded us of that anything apple green and sparkly was best for mehendis... in the '90s. The black dress would have been classy, had it not been for its wrinkled bottom. We hope that Bachchans rented a roomier limo on their next Cannes trip.
This leaves the taupe number that showed Ash in her best form.
Aishwarya seems to be hitting her stride.
Her silver dress is sleek but interesting at the same time, and that white dress, though safe, is striking enough. We can't say the same for the blue.
She's getting better! So, out of all her 2010 looks, we have to say we love the Sabyasachi sari best. With pulled-back hair and minimal accessories she looks every inch the movie star. Win!
Her violet Elie Saab gown and black Armani are less successful, and the magenta gown is more prom than red carpet glamour. But still, not a bad year.
Also, have you noticed how she looks best with her hair loose, or in an understated updo? Beehives aren't working here.
The problem with these two red carpet looks — extreme right and extreme left — is that they're two similar. If you're going to be making muliptle red carpet appearances, you must diversify the silhouettes you're wearing! But Aish doesn't do that.
That said, we love the gown on the right, the heavily worked one-shoulder gown. It's by Elie Saab, by the way. Her other white-and-navy number is Armani.
This was a controversial year, but not for the right reasons. Aishwarya got slammed because she'd just had a baby and was carrying around some baby weight. It's not cool to fat shame anyone, especially new mothers, so all that criticism was in bad taste.
Luckily, Aishwarya's looks were not. We appreciate how she worked with her new curves, draping them in an embellished Elie Saab dress (L). Her long-sleeved Abu Jani-Sandeep Khosla sari wasn't great, but that's mostly because of the stiff jacket.
This wasn't Aish's best year. Sigh. Her aqua gown by Gucci and black dress by Elie Saab were both... quite terrible. Cap sleeves are a no-no on anyone above age four, for starters. And the satin on the aqua gown? Not sophisticated enough for Cannes. Her desi outfit wasn't much better.
Again, Aishwarya is guilty of wearing similar dresses, but we can't complain. She looks great.
The teal Elie Saab was a divisive dress, and we weren't too impressed. The pink, we've seen too many times better. But Aishwariya reminded us why she's THE Aishwariya Rai in the maroon confection from Oscar de la Renta. She looks every bit the gorgeous star that she is.
The verdict? Aishwarya's red carpet looks at Cannes feature more misses than hits. They falter because, first, she doesn't experiment with new designers. Her mainstays are classic couturiers like Elie Saab, Armani and Oscar de le Renta, which might work well in theory but don't always flatter her figure or make for an exciting spectacle.
Another possible pitfall is her penchant for strapless dresses and boned bodices, which don't make the most of her womanly silhouette.
What can we say? We can only wait for this year's looks, and hope she's been thinking outside the box.