Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Exclusive show: Escada A/W 2010

Before finally accepting that my summer holiday is over, I promised to share Escada's A/W 2010 collection with you! A sleek unveiling at the Martinez hotel's Z-Plage bar, Escada touched on all bases: informal weekend-wear, smart business attire and the lavishly glamorous pieces for which fans love it best. Indulgent luxury is Escada's success story. There's no better way to return from devastating financial difficulties and a buy-out in November 2009, than to boldly bring clothes back to the centre stage (accessory ranges had not sold well). In this current collection, Escada has certainly been bold: intense colours, old-worldly glamour, high-end, sumptuous fabrics and intricate detailing. 
Escada A/W 2010/11, Cannes
Even the 'informal' Autumn/Winter offerings are smarter than most: structured shapes, strips of sparkle, bountiful fur and decorative bows:

Escada is not buying in to any of the current, less-than-feminine trends (androgyny, military, minimalism, leather). Instead, here are clothes for true Escada fans to be excited about. However, by choosing Milla Jovovich for their official campaign, it could be argued that the label is trying to widen it's appeal. Great photographs by Peter Lindbergh:

Milla's persona is certainly more 'edgy' than the typical red-carpet ladies who choose the brand (most recently, Jane Krakowski at Sunday night's Emmy Awards):

Jane Krakowski wearing Escada, Emmy Awards 2010
While Escada is not one of my personal favourites, I enjoyed the show immensely, particularly the saturated colours and inventive use of textures and materials. The Escada woman wants to feel wonderful as she dresses each and every day. She also wants (or demands) recognition. And, considering that price tags venture into the thousands of £s, she will pay for that privilege. Do you like Escada? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

As an aside, I also visited the 'Milady' Fur exhibition at the Carlton hotel in Cannes... 
My preference has always been for fake fur, although fur in all it's forms is making a comeback (see Topshop for shearling-jacket inspiration here). However, it was not until I saw a gold-painted room full of fur-adorned women from head-to-toe, that I found it all quite disgusting. The bling-brigade is taking it too far:
Milady Fur Exhibition 2010, Cannes
Images: outfits designed by Escada and Milady. Picture of Jane Krakowski, Just Jared.

Are you red-carpet ready?

My excitement about Cannes' cinematic history has reminded me that one of the world's greatest film festivals will soon roll out its red carpets here in London! Fancy mingling with the megastars? With the BFI's ultimate Festival experience, you could be there. You could be the first to see the world's best new films! 

To enter, simply:

Sign up to the BFI London Film Festival mailing list at bfi.org.uk/lff to enter this fantastic prize draw to win the ultimate Festival experience including accommodation, transport and tickets to the star-studded red carpet Galas. (Closing date: 17 September 2010).

By subscribing to the BFI mailing list you will also receive information on screenings, have the chance to enter exciting competitions and gain access to exclusive clips.

Don't forget, if you don't win this time around, the BFI London Film Festival is open to all and anyone can book tickets for any Festival event. Don't miss your chance to join in the excitement and hit the red carpet!

Public booking opens on 27 September. Call the BFI box office on 020 7928 3232 or book online and find out more at bfi.org.uk/lff.


p.s. I'll be back shortly with perhaps the most stylish film ever made (and a heroine to rival Jean Seberg), plus a director who's being billed as Korea's answer to Woody Allen...

Monday, 30 August 2010

Fashion shows, fireworks & une coupe de champagne...

As I mentioned before, one of the wonderful things about Cannes is that you'll never get bored (particularly if you like your pommes purée with a side of couture). Admittedly, I have never been one of those people who claim to find beach holidays excruciatingly dull. However, the city girl within me can sometimes materialise in a sudden spurt of restlessness. After a few hours soaking up the sun, extracting every word from my chosen magazine and braving the icy-shock of the waves, I am a curious city explorer, ready for adventure. If you also take a break from this (very) beautiful beach, here are my tips for a fashionable day à Cannes.

Firstly, if you can book a room at the popular Hotel Martinez, don't hesitate. It's a wonderfully warm hotel which exudes glamour (old-Hollywood style), staff are super-friendly, spa treatments are heavenly and you feel every bit the movie star. During our stay, we were wowed by a complimentary bottle of champagne, bottle of red, chocolate cake and birthday presents delivered to our room! It really does feel like the epicentre of Cannes activity and you only need to witness their events roster to understand why (superb hospitality must help). Remember the fashion photographs? I will soon be sharing another special Martinez event with you.

Hotel Martinez entrance, Cannes
Both pictures: the Hotel Martinez
Hotel Martinez exterior, Cannes

Following pains-au-chocolat or omelette complet at Hotel Martinez, pause on the palm tree-lined beachfront promenade La Croisette, home to excellent and affordable bistros and, of course, Jimmy Choo, Prada et al. A visual feast lies before you, from every angle. Listen for the noise of Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Astons behind you...

Jimmy Choo store, La Croisette, Cannes
Jimmy Choo, La Croisette
Ferrari, La Croisette, Cannes
A fabulous Ferrari, La Croisette
Let your eyes wander to the beach below and you’ll spy the latest Chanel tote glamorizing sun-bathers, often shockingly, being used to carry sun-cream. You'll witness jewel-encrusted, cut-away swimming costumes (here the women steal the show) to the most fashion-savvy children I have ever seen (read: bored/overindulgent parents?) Headscarves, maxi-dresses, nail polish, you name it; who needs €5 to find English Grazia, when you have these trendy tots for inspiration? Or, you can watch with utter fascination while one smiling lady changes her kaftan every 5 minutes (although I later discovered that she was selling her decorative designs). Even the Martinez beach boys and girls are the height of preppy chic in their pristine white shorts and stylish sunglasses. Their nautically-inspired attire would fit in very well in Port Canto, where the boats look like this...WOW.

Boats in Port Canto, Cannes
Boats in Port Canto, Cannes

After pretending that you belong aboard Roman Abramovich's boat with your crew in tow, it’s time to shop (or window-shop) on La Croisette or the boutique-friendly Rue D’antibes*, until you drop into a chair at the perfectly positioned, people-watching restaurant Le Voilier, for a Filet de Boeuf avec la pomme purée à l'huile d'olive. Can't you almost taste it? Le Voilier fare is simple, fresh and moreishly delicious, served by lovely staff, one of whom humorously resembles a French Mick Jagger. Return to the beachfront after dinner for some of Cannes’ famous fireworks displays and have a drink at the Martinez hotel's Z Plage bar as the DJ warms up and the sun begins to set. 

Rue D'antibes...
Rue D'antibes, CannesFireworks,CannesCrystal Bombay Sapphire gin bottle, Hotel Martinez, Cannes

Now, if you are really lucky, Escada could unveil their Fall/Winter 2010 collection in the bar, just for you (well, sort of). Visit my blog again soon for our exclusive peek! 

The red carpets may be rolled up as the film festival ends, but Cannes remains a place where some very stylish dreams are born... and lived. It may not feel like real life to you or I, but who cares? Revel in the charade with your coupe de champagne. And, to get close to the red-carpet experience, visit Cinéma Les Arcades for the latest cinema releases in V.O. (version originale). Enjoy the show!

Pinko A/W 2010

*Shopping on Rue D'antibes? My favourites: Sandro, Maje, Sinequanone, Pinko, Maxmara, Missoni, Agnes B, Gérard Darel.

Pinko S/S 2010 (Sales now on)
 Agnes B A/W 2010Agnes B, A/W 2010

Images: my own, except for final two: Pinko and Agnes B.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

The International Fashion Photography Exhibition, Cannes 2010

A newcomer to Cannes, I soon realised that there is always something to see and do; whoever first said that a place was "happening", must have just returned from Cannes. The city "buzz" and a seaside resort; Cannes has it all. It's enthralling cinematic (and fashion) history has created a hub for artists, designers, photographers and those who will pay for their big-ticket items. Yet it's not merely a parade of bling-meets Fur Coat exhibitions, or the auction hammer, although there is that side. Sure, it revels in it's glorious past and glamorous persona; film-festival fashions are almost as eagerly awaited as Oscar outfits. But, as visitors, we bring with us an imagined familiarity to Cannes, similar to when we visit Provence. Its' magic for fashion and film enthusiasts like myself, lies somewhat in the mental evocation of iconic Cannes images: visualising the festival's red carpets and paparazzi, or Cary Grant and Grace Kelly at the Carlton hotel (To Catch A Thief). 
Jacques Olivar Fashion Photography Exhibition, Cannes

Cannes knows it's cool, but wants everyone to enjoy it. As a result, there are fascinating sights, events and experiences available to all. Some (very happy) people are striving to ensure Cannes’ equally exciting present and future. 
Commanding my attention as they dazzled in the heat on La Croissette, Le Port Canto and in Hotel Martinez, the stunning images in this post are my selection from The 8th International Fashion Photography exhibition, where ‘Guest of Honour’ was Jacques Olivar. Sorry for the sunlight on some of the photographs (although, perhaps wrongly, I find the reflections quite interesting..!)

Jacques Olivar Fashion Photography Exhibition, Cannes

Jacques Olivar Fashion Photography Exhibition, Cannes

Photographs by: 1) Straulino, 2) Cyril Lagel, 3), 6), 8) & 10) Jacques Olivar, 4) Ken Browar, 5) Benjamin Kanarek, 7) Pino Leone, 9) Michalet Firdmann.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

"Small Lacklustre/Ludicrous Hotel of the World"

Following a revitalising stay en Provence, we headed to Le Lavandou. A very pretty seaside resort and fishing village, where lavender-filled gardens give way to soft, sandy beaches, clear seawater, and 'italienne' ice cream. A wonderful contrast, we thought. The 'South of France' from children's picture books or the postcard from a friend that's decorating your fridge. Our hotel, Les Roches Le Lavandou, looked endearingly different; a nautically themed, romantic haven perched on the cliff-edge, with trendy DJ music (according to the website). And, a "Small Luxury Hotel of the World". What's not to love? As it happened, more than any pain-au-chocolat could salvage. In fact, the only redeeming feature of this hotel was the beach-side view (The Talented Mr Ripley meets And God Created Woman), along with le plagiste, friendly Cedric.  Le Lavandou coastline, Provence
Excitedly anticipating our first swim, we had arrived early and checked-in before our room was ready. What to do? Order a cocktail to accompany the hotel's remarkable wrap-around-sea-view. Perfect start. Until we were informed that we weren't allowed to sit down at the bar or seemingly, anywhere else. The only place for us (with most of our luggage, bear in mind) was the beach. The beach crammed to its fullest capacity? There was nowhere for us to go. Very strange. After this perplexing greeting, unusually tense and plainly rude behaviour towards guests (we weren't alone) seemed to sweep amongst staff like a contagious disease. The internet problems I experienced? Our receptionist's repeated response: "Non". Now, I can hold a conversation in French, but perhaps I needed to accept it was a language issue. The smirks and strange looks towards guests of all nationalities (including French guests), made me think otherwise. 

Most striking was the distinct lack of energy displayed by nearly every staff member; a colossal contrast with staff later at Hotel Martinez, Cannes (whose pride in their hotel was palpable). It's not that I am painstakingly sensitive to every aspect of a hotel's service nor highly demanding, but to feel like you're not welcome on your own holiday? That's something I've never experienced before. As for the room, it was full of character (we could have been staying on a boat) with an enviable position on the Med.  However, neither room nor hotel lived up to the "Small Luxury Hotels of the World" title, of which you would expect something more special. Regardless of the service.

On the positive side, we explored the coastline, enjoyed swimming, ate wonderful seafood in nearby Bormes-les-Mimosas and spied Sarkozy's summer residence, Fort de Brégançon:

I must say, French women are just as fashion-savvy outside of Paris; Seberg would have fit in very stylishly. Yet, despite devouring French Grazia, I found no explanation for the sudden Riviera outbreak of not-very-macho, extremely gaudy swimming trunks adorning nearly every sunbathing male, with designs resembling psychedelia or Vegas fruit machines! A trend I'm not aware of? A curious place, Le Lavandou. You have been warned.

Images: all my own.

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