Cannes: All for the Photo Op

Before the 58th edition of Cannes winds up on Sunday, firms will have invested millions to coddle and wrangle stars into their wares.

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Mischa Barton

Photo By WWD Staff

CANNES — Ever since hairstylist Jacques Dessange twisted Brigitte Bardot's famous locks into a chignon at the film festival here, the floodgates have been open for fashion and beauty firms to ride the coattails of the annual event in search of a publicity windfall.

And before the 58th edition winds down on Sunday, firms will have invested millions to coddle, pamper and wrangle stars into their dresses, jewels, shoes and makeup.

Involvements run the gamut from official sponsors such as Chopard and L'Oreal to small fashion houses without on-site fashion suites, but which nevertheless try to get a frock or a necklace onto a photographed actress.

Dessange, for example, has been a staple at the event for 30 years and invites all guests for a free hair session with one of its 20 styles — gratis, of course.

"The film festival is very important for us," a spokeswoman for the Paris-based firm said. "It is, after all, our image of glamour and elegance. I think there is a return to that with actors like Scarlett Johansson. For young people, it is very important. For us, the investment we make at Cannes pays off, because of the image it brings."

For the fourth year, Dessange has some competition from Frederic Fekkai, who is offering mobile styling services along with two other stylists, plus appointments in the Nikki Beach venue. "The international presence here gives me a chance to take the company more global," said Fekkai, who made his name in New York, Beverly Hills and Palm Beach. "I realized this when I did Michelle Yeoh's hair a few years ago and nobody in the States cared who she was, but I got incredible press in Asia. Cannes is a place where glamour from all over the world comes together."

The commercial quotient of the festival was upped about seven years ago when giants such as L'Oreal appeared on the scene, increasing the competition. As an official partner, L'Oreal paints the faces of at least 600 actors and other invited guests. It also dispatches to the red carpet its bevy of high-profile ambassadors including, this year, Aishwarya Rai, Eva Longoria and Milla Jovovich.
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