Festival de Cannes is one of the major events for cinematographers around the world. Sure, it’s an excuse to spend a week on the French Riviera with lots of beautiful people at a beautiful time of year to be on the French Riviera. But along with the Venice Film Festival, the Berlin International Film Festival and, nowadays, Sundance and Toronto in North America, the Cannes Film Festival is in the big leagues; a 10+ day extravaganza of commerce and art and, yes, jewelry.
Over the course of the festival, individual previews for films of all genres from all over the world require not just one stunning red-carpet outfit like Oscar night, but rather a whole wardrobe of red-carpet outfits. It goes without saying this is overweight-luggage territory. It might even be better to charter your own plane, but we’ll get to that later.
The first Cannes Film Festival was held in 1946. Originally proposed in 1932 in response to the Venice Film Festival’s increasingly fascist tone, by the time the funding and organization were finally pulled together in 1939, WWII intervened and the festival never came off until after the war was over.
In its early years, the festival gained more of a reputation for its showbiz scandals and high-profile love affairs than anything else, but its artistic reputation was growing quietly. The establishment of accolades like the Critic’s Prize, the Camera d’Or prize for best first feature film, and the Palme D’Or, the festival’s highest honor, helped boost the artistic quotient, and over time the festival incorporated more and more international films.
Art or not, it’s showbiz, so controversies are part of the package. In the 1950s, two powerful films about WWII, Night and Fog (about the Nazis’ concentration camps) and Hiroshima, My Love were banned from the competition for diplomatic concerns, although renowned novelist and filmmaker Jean Cocteau argued they should have been shown and the festival be above politics.
The most recent controversy was “heelgate.” Although Cannes didn’t even have a red carpet until 1987, now that it has one it demands that anyone on it look the part. The notoriously strict dress code calls for black-tie evening wear, including high heels and preferably no handbags for women, and tuxedos for men. And no smoking—in France, no less, not LA.
In 2015, some female celebrities were banned from entering one red-carpet premiere because they were wearing flats instead of high heels. For the rest of the festival that year, women wore flats or bare feet to subsequent premieres in protest and have continued to do so whenever their feet hurt. Julia Roberts shucked her shoes in 2016 (but left a honking emerald and diamond necklace in place) and last year, Kristen Stewart stopped halfway up the red carpet, took off her towering Louboutins, and walked the rest of the way barefoot. Not to be outdone, this year Sylvester Stallone tested the dress code limits in jeans, T-shirt, flannel, and boots. Good thing, because while he got away with the jeans and flannel, sneakers would have been the last straw and gotten him bounced.
Neither has Cannes been exempt from the #metoo movement, which got its start with the Harvey Weinstein sex scandal in Hollywood. At Cannes too, a number of high-profile directors and producers have been accused of sexual harassment and abuse over the years, so starting last year, Festival officials, in conjunction with the French government, announced the creation of a hotline to report sexual harassment and other crimes.
It goes without saying that big important jewelry is de rigueur for a movie premiere. This year’s most notable jewelry event in Cannes was a big oopsie: a female courier tasked with transporting about $4 million worth of jewelry got off her flight and left the bag on board. By the time she realized her mistake, the plane had already turned around and was on its way back to London’s Luton airport.
Now, even for a civilian traveler, forgetting your carry-on bag is a pretty impressive brain blip. But in the jewelry industry, it is inconceivable. Jewelry couriers are a highly trained species. They get private screening at airport security; never let a bag out of their hand even for a nanosecond, and if they’re driving, will always assume a fender bender or a flat tire is a diversion tactic, not an accident. When they fly, the suitcase with their underwear can go to outer Mongolia, but the jewelry doesn’t leave their possession even to go to the loo on the plane.
So when the one thing you’re tasked to do—nay, the very reason you’re even in Cannes in the first place—is to deliver $4 million worth of jewelry to rock star Rita Ora, how do you forget to grab your carry-on bag when you get off the plane?
The good news is that unlike a few famous jewelry heists in Cannes, the jewelry for Ora was all recovered. Still, it’s probably a sure bet that courier’s career in jewelry is over. Rita Ora, meanwhile, later showed up in a massive Chopard necklace for the photo call for Magnum X Rita_Ora (that’s Magnum the ice cream bar, not “Magnum P.I.”)
The other big piece of jewelry news was the 121 carats of diamonds (total weight) Mariah Carey wore to perform at the amfAR gala. The jewelry, from Chopard’s “Queen of Kalahari” collection, featured diamonds all cut from the same piece of rough, a stunningly pristine 324-carat find named the Queen of Kalahari.
The Queen of Kalahari rough was cut into 23 diamonds in total. Of those, five weigh more than 20 carats (Carey wore most of them) and all the traditional diamond shapes—round brilliant, cushion, heart, emerald, and pear were represented in what came from the rough. Carey’s necklace—designed to look like diamond lace—featured the centerpiece of the Kalahari collection, a whopping 50-carat (yes, that’s 5-0) round brilliant. The matching earrings had both a 25-carat pear and a 26-carat heart, and the final piece of the set, a ring, has a 20-carat cushion cut.
Chopard is the principal jewelry sponsor of the Cannes Film Festival, so it’s no surprise that almost a dozen celebrities were spotted wearing pieces from the famed French jeweler. In addition to Carey, some other top names spotted in Chopard included Marion Cotillard, Lea Seydoux, Elle Fanning, Milla Jovovich, model Izabel Goulard, and more.
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