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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And even when a company has been at it for three years, like Tod's, the process is not without its snafus. When its Paris and New York publicists checked into the Carlton last week, they found the suite they had reserved as a showroom had been inadvertently given away and was no longer available, forcing them to show their shoes and bags from the two cramped guest rooms. Samuel L. Jackson, who was happy to take the free shoes, nevertheless said, "That's some f----d s--t."

Perhaps it really didn't matter in the end, since Tod's New York publicist Caroline Bitkower resorted to doing what most in Cannes do — ferrying her wares on foot to celebrities' hotel rooms. After traversing the Croisette in search of Brittany Murphy on Tuesday with just minutes to spare before her "Sin City" photo call, she got the payoff when the actress carried a Tod's clutch for photographers. It was just barely visible in one shot.

Missoni's VIP consultant, Gerlinde Hobel, stayed in the Martinez and tossed dresses into her bag as she made an impromptu rendezvous via cell phone. However, it was a past relationship with Julie Delpy that got her dress on the actress for Tuesday's premiere of "Broken Flowers."

Still others are more low key. Edward O'Sullivan, Ralph Lauren's VIP liaison, in town to dress Hayden Christensen for "Star Wars: Episode III-Revenge of the Sith," and Joely Richardson for the AmFar party on Thursday, said, "Ralph doesn't really care to be here and he trusts me to make our presence at AmFar known, but it's not the end-all, be-all," adding the company opened a store on the Croisette this week, but chose not to publicize it with a party as Fendi and Jean Paul Gaultier have done in past years.

And it must be said some fashion firms do even less to capitalize on the publicity value of their efforts. Van Cleef & Arpels, for example, hosted a swanky, star-studded, black-tie affair aboard a yacht last Monday — and barred press from attending.
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