An army of stylists, hairdressers and make-up artists work flat-out behind the scenes at the Cannes Film Festival to ensure not an eyelash is out of place for the big moment on the red carpet.
“We have a real responsibility. At Cannes, the ‘look’ is dissected at an incredible speed,” said French hair stylist Stephane Bodin, a regular at the world’s leading film festival on the French Riviera.
This year, he is charged with sculpting the hair-dos of actress Adele Exarchopoulos, who won the Palme d’Or in 2013 for “Blue is the Warmest Colour”, as well as models Doutzen Kroes and Lindsay Ellingson.
The hours are relentless — from seven in the morning till late into the night he races to keep up with the demands of press conferences, interviews, premieres and dinners.
Bodin rushes from one hotel suite to another, lugging his 18-kilogramme (40-pound) bag full of products, curling irons and hairdryers.
The preparations have been going on for weeks with his regular collaborators, as they decide on styles to match outfits for each occasion, but “everything can change at the last minute, on a whim or change of heart,” he told AFP.
Bodin often works at fashion shows, where he keeps an eye out for new looks for actresses at Cannes. This year, he’s trying out a style with a side parting, African braid on one side and flowing locks on the other, which he described as “glamourous and modern”.
All of it has to be done in around half an hour before the starlet is whisked off to the next array of cameras.
– ‘Have to amuse yourself’ –
The number-one look to avoid on the red carpet is boredom, says stylist Camille Seydoux, who dresses her actress sister, Lea Seydoux, among others.
“People who don’t take any risks — who wear a black dress with black shoes — I don’t see the point. You have to amuse yourself,” she said.
She cites Rihanna as an inspiration, recalling the flamboyant yellow dress with a huge train that the US singer wore to a recent New York gala.
“I love Rihanna,” she gushes. “She isn’t afraid of anything. She’s original and we get the feeling she really loves to get dressed up for the red carpets.”
“The Americans are queens of the red carpet,” she added, saying that French actresses were often “afraid of looking pretentious or superficial.”
Her own choices this year have tended towards special creations, working with designers for weeks before the festival. Her sister Lea has mostly worn Prada or Miu Miu.
“Glamour works perfectly for her, and she has a sort of sixties side as well,” said Camille.
The opposite was true of Lea’s former co-star Exarchopoulos, who is more “rebellious and modern” and has opted for Nicolas Ghesquiere’s Louis Vuitton designs.
Camille, who says she also loves Valentino, Dior and Schiaparelli, often turns to her many Instagram followers to see what people think.
“You don’t necessarily have to be in fashion to have an opinion, especially concerning the red carpet. The stars are dressing for the public, after all.”