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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"The Cannes festival is a unique worldwide event that's covered in an incredible number of magazines and newspapers," said Patrick Rabain, the president of L'Oreal's consumer products division. "I'm sure even in Mongolia there are papers showing what people [are up to] in Cannes."

Indeed, Cannes has become a forum for all types of beauty messages. The Breast Cancer Fund, for instance, is using the festival to showcase its Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

But over the first 10 days this year, most attendees lamented a dearth of A-list actresses, due mostly to a selection of films skewed to the intellectual and underground, or with male-driven story lines.

Nevertheless, competition for credits is such that any wardrobing opportunity around Cannes, not only the red carpet, is exploited to the fullest. These include photo calls, press conferences, parties and roundtable interviews. Even a trip through the lobby of the chic Martinez Hotel can turn into an impromptu fashion shoot for a pretty actress in a great outfit.

Mischa Barton, in town last Friday for a photo call on Saturday, was staying at the Sofitel Hotel, but made the designer-heavy Martinez one of her first stops. After all, Giorgio Armani, Fendi, Versace and Roberto Cavalli have suites there. Barton left wearing one of Cavalli's printed minidresses and was immediately accosted by paparazzi in the lobby. Hours later, Cavalli's New York reps at C&M Media had transmitted the photo to fashion press worldwide. They should have made sure that Barton hadn't chosen a dress in the same print group that Paris Hilton had worn to her photo call the day before, though.

Even the digits of an actress are up for grabs. Late on Tuesday, Christian Dior dispatched text messages to key editors to let them know Tilda Swinton was wearing two of its rings to the premiere of "Broken Flowers."

To be sure, access to practically unlimited jewels and dresses at the sundry fashion suites is a powerful attraction for many stars. Told that Chanel was present with a suite at Cannes, Kim Gordon, who stars in "Last Days," said, "Wow, that sounds good."

Some up-and-comers need a bit more courting.
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