Eva Longoria Wore a $40 Gown to Her First Cannes in 2005: 'Nobody Would've Known!'

The actress, who is attending for her 17th year, says she had no idea what people meant when they asked "who" she was wearing: "I was like, it's mine!"

Eva Longoria
Photo: Arnold Jerocki/GC Images/Getty

Eva Longoria knows that you can look like a million bucks but spend less than $100 — even on one of the biggest red carpets around.

With this year's Cannes Film Festival in full swing, the 47-year-old actress revealed to PEOPLE that the slinky gold knit gown she wore to her first festival in 2005 cost only $40.

"I was like, I'll just wear this one, this knit gold, that feels right," Longoria recalled of the moment she chose the dress 17 years ago. "Nobody would've known it was a $40 dress."

Longoria, who was then a breakout star from Desperate Housewives, which premiered the year before, admitted she "had no idea what Cannes was" when she bought the dress from a store on Melrose Avenue.

The actress, a longtime L'Oréal Paris International Spokesperson, even recalled her confusion at the event when the then-president of L'Oréal asked her "who" she was wearing (meaning, which designer label she had on).

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"I was like, What do you mean? It's mine," Longoria joked. "Everybody just loved the dress, and I was like, it's just from Melrose!"

Eva Longoria during 2005 Cannes Film Festival
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Looking back, Longoria said her shining moment proved that it's all about confidence and style, not the price of the gown.

"It's not the dress, it's the woman who wears the dress," the actress said.

For this year's May 17 opening ceremony, Longoria chose a dramatic, ruffled black dress by Alberta Ferretti with intricate, abstract beaded detailing along the bodice.

“Final Cut (Coupez!)” & Opening Ceremony Red Carpet – The 75th Annual Cannes Film Festival
Dominique Charriau/WireImage

Though the Desperate Housewives star revealed the gown choice came together "by accident" after her first dress took too long in alterations, the second she laid eyes on the semi-sheer ruffled number she knew it would be a hit.

"I mean, it was so spectacular," Longoria said. "I was like, yes, let's do that one."

She also wore glam by L'Oréal, choosing a pared-back makeup look highlighting her glowing skin (which she credited to the brand's Revitalift 1.5% Hyaluronic Acid Serum), major lashes (a mix of L'Oréal Lash Paradise and Telescopic mascaras) and a flirty ponytail. And it all came together with minutes to spare, Longoria says: "It was so last minute I was like, Um, what do we do with the hair? What do we do? It was all really put together."

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