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The 2009 Cannes International Film Festival kicked off overnight to its usual glittery fanfare. Despite reports that the event will be toned down this year in light of the economic climate, the stars who stepped out onto the red carpet didn't seem to take notice. Joined at the hip were Elizabeth Banks and Aishwarya Rai in contrasting ruby red Armani Prive and white Roberto Cavalli ball gowns. Tilda Swinton was also there on opening night, commanding the cameras in a bordeaux silk skirt and suede jacket ensemble by Haider Ackermann, whom she also accompanied.

Also causing quite a stir was Robin Wright Penn, who glided along the red carpet in an off-the-shoulder silver gown by Elie Saab. She showed no signs of strain despite her recent separation from Sean Penn.

There is much to look forward to at this year's festival, with an assortment of fashion faces to keep an eye out for. As I recently mentioned Lily Cole is expected to attend in support of her latest film, The Imaginarium Of Dr Parnassus, as well as Laetitia Casta, who stars in Tsai Ming-liang's Face. The model is planning to wear a custom-made Givenchy gown especially for the occasion.

Other highlights include amfAR's Cinema Against AIDS Cannes benefit, chaired by Kenneth Cole. Donatella Versace designed the décor and the event's live action will be overseen by Marchesa's Georgina Chapman and her husband, Harvey Weinstein.

Stay glued to Catwalk Queen for all the latest red carpet coverage!

[Sources: Fashionologie / WWD; Photos: / Fabsugar]