Elle Fanning on the Fashion Fantasy Behind Her Cannes Looks: 'You Have to Bring the Dramatics'

"I have so much fun with it," the L'Oréal Paris International Spokesperson tells PEOPLE of working with her stylist Samantha McMillen on her show-stopping Cannes wardrobe

‘Top Gun: Maverick’ premiere, 75th Cannes Film Festival, France – 18 May 2022
Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty

Preparing for the Cannes red carpet is a marathon, not a sprint. Just ask Elle Fanning, who spends months concepting her fashion moments with stylist Samantha McMillen.

"I have so much fun with it," Elle tells PEOPLE at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival. "Samantha and I work closely together on coming up with the looks and designing clothes in our head, and I really enjoy the process."

That process can be "time consuming" according to Fanning, 24, who says she collaborates closely with her hair, makeup and styling teams on "what character" she'll channel on the carpet.

"I've always loved fashion, and Cannes is probably the biggest and the best red carpet in the world," the L'Oréal Paris International Spokesperson says. "There's nothing like it — it's so wide on both sides so you have to think about the 360-degree view of the look."

Fanning adds that there's "no hiding" on the famous Palais des Festivals carpet and steps.

"It's like the train has to be perfect — all around look has to bring the dramatics in some way."

And bring the dramatics she did, hitting the Top Gun: Maverick premiere in a custom blush Armani Privé gown featuring intricate beading, a tulle overlay, fishtail train and romantic sweetheart neckline. She topped off the look with a dazzling Chopard diamond necklace and fabric from the dress tied into her romantic side-swept waves styled by Jenda.

‘Top Gun: Maverick’ premiere, 75th Cannes Film Festival, France – 18 May 2022
Matt Baron/Shutterstock

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Makeup artist Erin Ayanian Monroe created her glowing, matching makeup moment using all L'Oréal Paris products including the True Match Mineral Blush in Pinched Pink, Glow Amour Glow Boosting Drops in Golden Hour, Flash Cat Eye Waterproof Liquid Liner in Black and Infallible Pro-Matte Liquid Lipstick in Pink Soiree.

Alberto Terenghi/ipa-agency ne/Shutterstock

For the L'Oréal Paris Anniversary Dinner Wednesday night, Fanning channeled retro Hollywood glamour in her black, off-the-shoulder Giambattista Valli dress teamed with Chopard jewelry and crystal mesh Pīferi heels.

Fanning has become a mainstay at Cannes, making her debut at the French film festival in 2016, when she also sky-rocketed to fashion darling thanks to the ethereal Zuhair Murad Couture dress with floral embroidery and visible corseting she wore to The Neon Demon premiere (photo below, left). In 2017, she had one of her most talked about fashion moments, wearing a custom, whimsical Vivienne Westwood Couture ball gown featuring a unicorn hand-painted on the train for the opening ceremony (photo below, right).

In 2019, she became the festival's youngest juror ever at just 21 years old.

"I remember getting that phone call, and I was in disbelief," Fanning tells PEOPLE. "Of course I was thinking about my age, like, 'Wait I'm so young, is this is this okay?'

Fanning joined fellow jurors Mamouna N'Diaye, Kelly Reichardt, Alice Rohrwacher, Enki Bilal, Robin Campillo, Yorgos Lanthimos and Pawel Pawlikowski, and the president of the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu, who directed the actress in 2006's Golden Globe-winning film Babel.

"They were so welcoming to me and they really wanted to hear my perspective because of the generation that I'm from — my generation, we're the future," Fanning recalls. "They really wanted to cultivate my creativity and welcome me. I was completely one of them, I got to really speak up and it was the best experience. I think about it so many times."

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