En route for the Cannes Film Festival, the screenings begin in the plane with a corporate video promising us that France is in the air. Stuck between a tourist in flip-flops and a lady with a giant hat and an inversely proportional Yorkshire Terrier, France’s legendary glamour is taking a bashing.
With comedic timing, both dog and festival-goer have their ticket for Cannes. “Need a cab?” A taxi-driver at Nice airport sets the tone. The countdown has begun. Whatever happens, do. not. take. your. eyes. off. your. watch. Mr Cab Driver has been behind the wheel since 6am, you’re already his fourth fare of the day, and he’s not in the best of moods. Asking whether traffic is fluid might not be the cleverest opening gambit. Try distracting him instead with your Girard-Perregaux Chamber of Wonders “The Sun, Centre of the Universe”. The kaleidoscope of warm, silken colours on the dial should break the ice, and send a subliminal message that it’s time to step on the gas. Cannes, here we come!
For the girl topping up her tan, a bright orange Lady Fabergé will help gauge the perfect degree of bronzed loveliness.
The thrill of the wait
Already, gawkers are milling around the Palais des Festivals, selfie stick in one hand, autograph book in the other. They’re in for the long haul. For the next ten hours, from 9 in the morning until 7 at night, they will keep their eyes riveted on the red carpet, gripped by the age-old compulsion to know whether Sophie Marceau will experience yet another wardrobe malfunction, whether the photographers will boycott certain stars, and whether the mistral will get the better of George Clooney’s salt and pepper locks. Meanwhile, an empty beach beckons. For the girl topping up her tan, a bright orange Lady Fabergé will help gauge the perfect degree of bronzed loveliness that she will flaunt on the red carpet that night.
Throughout the festival fortnight, Cannes is a well-oiled machine whose rumblings begin around 4pm. Hairstylists, wardrobe stylists, make-up artists and an army of assistants stand poised for action. It’s a scientific fact that time travel is not an option. Meaning there isn’t a moment to waste. An hour for the chignon, twenty minutes for mascara, another thirty to squeeze into a dress too tight to breathe in, and ten minutes on the phone to mum to remind her it’s going out live. That’s two hours of preparation in all. One eye on the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph and it should all run to plan.
Bring on the night
When the chrono hand stops, the show begins. The celebrities treading the red carpet know their style is under scrutiny. There is, of course, a foolproof way to sort the A-listers from the also-rans, and that is the ability, or not, to respect the Cannes dress code. Croisettiquette dictates that women shall wear something dazzling by Chopard – official partner to the Cannes Film Festival – such as the latest Happy Diamonds which for its 40th anniversary this year reprises the original cushion shape. For gentlemen hoping to ascend the legendary steps, a tux is de rigueur; discreet enough not to distract from the diamonds that dance across the dial of their partner’s watch.
As the closing credits fade, Cannes switches to party mode. For those who are still planning their evening, magazines’ celebrity supplements oblige with a detailed list of what’s going on where and who’s who on the guest list. And where guest lists are concerned, the battle rages to see who can bag an invite for de Grisogono. To say that the party which the watchmaker-jeweller hosts at the Hôtel du Cap Eden-Roc is one of the most coveted events would be an understatement. Try flashing your invite on the dial of a Samsung Gear S2 by de Grisogono in pink gold, diamonds and galuchat, for added wow.
Anyone stamping their feet in frustration as they read these lines on their computer screen can console themselves with this thought: while cinema’s great and good are rubbing shoulders, downing champagne, enjoying the premières, doing business or simply posing for the cameras, we ordinary mortals can devote our time to an equally noble quest, and speculate as to who’ll be wearing what on their wrist for their red carpet photo call.