The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Flatgate: Flat-Wearers Banned From Cannes Film Festival

Posted by on Friday, May 29th, 2015


Cannes Film Festival turned away several women in their 50s from the screening of “Carol,” a feminist drama starring Cate Blanchett, for wearing rhinestone flats instead of high heels. According to Screen Dailysome of the guests “had medical conditions” that prevented them from slipping into heeled shoes. Staff reportedly told some of the women they could “go and buy appropriate shoes and come back.”

Even the wife of Asif Kapadia, a filmmaker who was screening a documentary about Amy Winehouse, said his wife was initially turned away for Cannes’ unwritten shoe policy, but later let in. Vicci Ho, a former festival programmer, said her ankle issues ruled out high heels. “It’s been ridiculous this year,” she told BBC Newsbeat. “Cannes need to catch up with the times. Being fashionable for a woman is no longer about wearing heels.

As NYC podiatrists, we see the devastating toll high heels can take on a woman, day-in and day-out. Tendinitis, nerve damage, bunions, fallen arches and heel pain are just a few of the conditions we regularly treat in business women, models and heel-lovers alike. Donning a pair of stilettos for a red carpet event isn’t likely to utterly ruin all wearers, but even a few hours in high heels can be excruciating for women with medical conditions like plantar fasciitis, arthritis, Achilles tendon injuries, or severe bunions. We’re dismayed to hear that the Cannes organizers would make such a fuss about flats. It’s not like women were trying to wear casual running shoes or flip-flops to a red carpet event, after all!  We’re not the only ones outraged by “Flatgate.”

Samantha Baines was interviewed by news outlets after being discriminated against by Cannes Film Festival staff for her shoe choice. Image Source:

Critics Speak Out Against Cannes’ High Heel Policy

Comedian Samantha Baines told BBC Newsbeat she had “heard on the grapevine that you were meant to wear high heels,” but adds that “the invitation just said ‘formal dress,'” so she took her chances with rhinestone flats after an ankle injury made heels impossible. She said all the other women were “towering over her,” but there was still some satisfaction in being able to wear what she wanted.

Film producer Valerie Richter could not wear heels because part of her foot has been amputated. “It is ridiculous,” she said of the policy. “We are all working women who walk up and down the streets of Cannes all day doing business. They cannot force us to wear heels. We put on the dress and make an effort to be formal and festive, but to demand heels is not right.”

“Everyone should wear flats, to be honest. We shouldn’t wear high heels,” said actress Emily Blunt. She added that the reports of discrimination were “very disappointing, just when you kind of think there are these new waves of equality.”

Slate’s Amanda Marcotte opined, “Women shouldn’t feel like they need a doctor’s note to wear shoes that don’t make them want to chop off their feet in agony by the end of the night.”

Flats Can Be Fashionable Too

As we reported back in 2014, flats have come into fashion recently, with major designers like Marc Jacobs, Yves Saint-Laurent, Prada, and Christian Louboutin all revealing their own signature shoes, sans heels. Celebs like Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kirsten Dunst, Michelle Williams, and Keri Russell love wearing flats, so why shouldn’t the average gal have the luxury of choice? Fashion designer and blogger Purushu Arie recently published his list of “15 Flat Shoes That Will Look Great Even At Cannes Red Carpet,” including an interesting pair of Vera Wangs.

What To Do When High Heel Pain Has Got You Down

The best thing a woman with high heel pain can do is abstain from wearing the offending shoes for a while. Even flat shoe styles can hurt your feet over time, so try to stay in a more cushioned, supportive shoe as much as possible. Our NYC podiatrists work with patients to find stylish alternatives to beloved high heel shoes as best we can. Our team of physical therapists work on strength, flexibility and balance training for the feet, ankles and calves that make injuries less likely. Aggressive-yet-non-invasive pain treatments like MLS laser, extracorporeal shockwave therapy, injection therapy and ultrasound technology can go a long way in making patients feel better sooner rather than later. Custom orthotic shoe inserts are another option for bolstering foot strength and making every shoe more comfortable. You also don’t want to miss our post about comfy heels and how to retrofit your heels for a more comfortable fit, when the occasion demands it. We hope to see more progressive shoe policies and more Red Carpet worthy flat shoe designs in the coming years, but in the meantime, contact us to explore your options for life without heels.


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.