Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Cannes Dolce party vs The Halkin Hotel

Several years ago I went to the Cannes Film Festival every May for work and for play. It’s a quite extraordinary experience, but it is not exactly what I would call endless fun. Everyone is there to work, from the A list stars promoting their movies to the socialites networking on the flotilla of enormous yachts moored out in the bay. Sleeping, eating: they don’t really factor in on any Cannes schedule. It’s just one whirl of interviews, round tables, appointments, meetings, broadcasts, copy filing, screenings, premieres & parties (which you have to attend) over fifteen days of coffee & Champagne-fuelled insanity.

Too busy stuck in the Dantesque hell of press junkets and round table interviews with the talent, I never had time to go back to my hotel to dress for screenings (you have to wear proper Black Tie to enter the Palais des Festivals), so I would hop it to the Christian Dior suite at The Martinez, where they would kindly do my make up, and change into my frock (balled up in the bottom of my daybag), before dashing down the length of the Croisette to The Majestic Hotel to find whoever was hosting me at that evening’s premiere.

Walking the red carpet at Cannes is not an exercise for the chronically shy or the self conscious. There is no back entrance: everyone attending has to climb those stairs (usually in vertiginous heels) and, sooner or later, you will see your face flashed up on the big TV screens. Which is just great when you have been invited by, say, a well-known jewellery company and your fellow guests include Eve Herzigova. No hungover English writer in a crumpled dress with a giant spot on her forehead shows to advantage when blown up ten feet high next to gorgeous Eva in couture & half a million quid's worth of bling.

Then I changed jobs and, after five years, Cannes attendance was no longer necessary. But the next year MTV kindly offered to fly me out for their legendary party and I had a ball. I wasn’t there to work, and suddenly I could see the point of Cannes when I didn’t have to get up at 6am to file copy after reeling in from late night networking drinks at Le Petit Martinez or Soho House at 4am.

I haven’t been to Cannes since, and then Dolce & Gabbana kindly invited me to their super glam party at the close of the Festival last week. Knowing how much fun those parties can be when you don't have to ask intrusive questions or find out what everyone is wearing, & having seen the party coverage, I’m wishing I could have made it.

But I did have a very, very good reason for not going: I had already arranged to book into a suite at The Halkin Hotel in London’s Belgravia for a mother & daughter escape that same night. Altho, given a choice between the Dolce party in Cannes & eating supper at David Thompson’s Nahm restaurant and holing up in a glorious taupe suite, it was a very, very close call.