TRAVEL

Cannes, from red to black and white

Cannes.  Simply saying the word conjures up the color red, a gorgeous and vibrant crimson sparkling with glitterati and paparazzi.  I'm talking about the red carpet at the Festival de Cannes, the nearly two-week long film festival where celebrities strike poses and poseurs try their best to become celebrities.  Walking the red carpet at Cannes is more than an experience, it is one of the Bucket List Bests, falling in rank with The Met Gala, the Oscars and the Venice Film Festival, where everyone is looking at everyone else, or better yet - what they are wearing.

Flattered by the invitation from San Pellegrino, I quickly thought "I've got this".  Remember, in my past life living in Los Angeles, I talked the talk and walked the walk on few red carpets including from limited release films like Evelyn to blockbusters like Die Another Day.  And in most of my walks, I took a nonchalant glam attitude since I had a bit of experience beingfront and slightly off-center as guest and personal assistant to an A+ actor.  Of course, I thought I knew it all for my walk down Promenade de la Croisette.  

The Festival de Cannes is nothing like Hollywood.  It's a busy French beach town when not festival season [vaguely reminiscent of Atlantic City], and when the Festival is on, well, it's an all day/ all night scene.  My hotel JW Marriott was beach-front la Croisette, in other words, prime real estate for celebrity sightings.  Upon arriving, I bumped into director Paolo Sorrentino and later Roman Polanski in the elevators.  One night, I popped a few bottles of Franciacorta with Italian super chefs Gualtiero Marchesi, Carlo Cracco, Davide Oldani and Andrea Berton, and the next day, I literally felt into Robert Pattison when heading out of the hotel to lunch at Nespresso's sur la plage pop-up.  Illustrator and beauty blogger Stephanie Rousseau brought me into the Chanel Suite at the historic Hotel Barrière for a little touch up, where we chatted with Ekaterina Samsonov, having no clue that we were about to see her on the big screen later that evening. 

I know you're thinking what I was thinking.  What was I wearing? Thanks to San Pellegrino, I had not one but two struts down those famous red threads- Friday's intimate evening screening of The Great Italian, a one-hour long docu-film about Chef Marchesi, and then Saturday's closing screening for You Were Never Really Here directed by Lynne Ramsay, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Samsonov, later winner of Best Screenplay and Best Actor.  I was nervous and had no idea, so I put myself in the hands and eye stylist Simona Scaloni of Nice To Dress You who picked out not one but two Le Petite Robe by Chiara Boni, a duo of fabulous, formfitting and distinct dresses- fun and frilly one-shoulder peach number, and elegant black column.  Perfect.

Even with Friday's screening as practice, a professional make up session and a gorgeous dress, I was not ready for Saturday's red carpet walk.  Cannes streets were flooded with thousands of incredibly-dressed people who wanted to know who we were just as much as we did too.  As we headed to the entry area, we were bombarded with faux paparazzi offering to take photos (at a price) and crazily-dressed Cannes fans asking for a ticket or two.  Stephanie, I and fashion writer Sophie Fontanel entered the cordoned-off red carpet just as there was a surge - thousands of clicks and strobing flashing, and that's when I realized that I had absolutely no idea what was about to happen.  Escorts nudged us forward as photographers stopped us and people pulled at us to see who were were. The entire walk probably took under three minutes but time stood still for at least two of them, especially that last minute when Joaquin Phoenix made his appearance and the carpet stopped.  We flowed upstream to our balcony seats, and shortly upon Phoenix entered the theatre, driving the audience wild. The lights dimmed, a hush took over the hall and we knew the show was about to begin. But then again, it had already started. . .

Would I go back to the Festival de Cannes? Yes. But I'd wear more color, more flair, and bigger hair.  If you're looking to top off your bucket list, a red carpet walk should be penciled in. Here's a black-and-white glimpse at a weekend in the red . . .