While it’s true that people come to Cannes to do business—it is a film festival, after all—I think it feels more like an excuse for adults to re-live prom. Women in full-length gowns linger in hotel lobbies at eleven in the morning; men wear tuxedos as daywear and to dinner. The whole city feels and looks a little like a time capsule: think Havana in the 50s meets 70s Miami, with a dash of Cirque du Soleil…a canopy of palm trees hangs over pastel art deco buildings, and the air is heady with excess. Steak au poivre is sixty euro. The new Céline store is packed. And there are plenty of places to get your hair and makeup done.
Dior invited me over to spend a day experiencing their beauty suite at the Majestic, and, lo and behold, I met my new best friend (insert appropriately high-school overzealousness here). Violette—no last name, just Violette—is a twenty-eight-year-old Parisian self-taught makeup artist who’s just signed on to be the brand’s European makeup “designer”. You’ll get the full scoop on her soon. She led me through the pale gray corner… apartment, basically… and into a chair, where I proceeded to explain my hesitations about “red carpet makeup” and what I didn’t want. (Was I actually going to a red carpet? No. We were just playing dress up. It was eleven AM—remember, this is Cannes.) But something about her studded Sandro sneakers, her MAC Russian Red lipstick, put me at ease. This girl’s not sending me off looking like a John Hughes heroine.
Taking one look at the iPhone photos of my dresses for the week—I’m in town until Sunday and will, in fact, go out at night—Violette decided on a glossy smoky eye. “I love playing with textures: putting lip gloss on the eyelid, or eye shadow on the mouth for a matte finish,” she told me, scraping a few curls of black shadow into an empty palette and mixing in a squeeze of clear MAC Lipglass with a small brush. That sounds tricky… “It’s easy,” said the mind reader, as she brushed a base of the dry shadow upward and outward over my eyelid. The gooey mixture went smack dab in the middle and was left alone to settle in as she worked on my skin, which went from jet-lag pallid to luminous thanks to my other new best friend, Dior Skinflash Primer—more luminizer than primer, we agreed. The texture play continued on cheeks: a die-hard fan of cream blush, Violette worked Dior Addict lipstick (“It’s the perfect consistency for blush—it’s a jelly, not a wax”) in 316 over my cheekbones and hit the top with Skinflash.
Sheer face. Genius spin on my favorite smudgy rocker eye. “This is too good,” I said, grabbing a glass of champagne. Feeling frisky, we ran down to my room and I slipped on a black Narciso Rodriguez number, Van Cleef & Arpels gold cuff, and Roger Vivier heels (some loaners--when in Rome!). Then I handed Violette my camera. “I’m not a photographer!” she laughed. Sure you are! And, just like that, we wiggled our way around the paparazzi in the hotel lobby, ran around a side street, snapping away, and even got the prerequisite Riviera balcony shot. Remembering the gilded Pucci mini-dress in my room and eyeing my lids, Violette paused and said, “Let’s mess it up now,” softening the graphic points with a Q-Tip and smearing on more gloss. I changed dresses, grabbed a hair tie for a ten-second ponytail, popped on a pretty major ring by Dior's Victoire de Castellane…and voilà. A very modern—and very fancy—evening look, in the fantasy land that is Cannes.