PARIS — It’s 10 a.m. on a weekday in mid-April and Parisian events guru Albane Cleret’s BlackBerry is vibrating with the fury of one seriously annoyed bee. Her outfit — a pair of New Balance sneakers, Repetto leggings and legwarmers, a Maje T-shirt and a chunky Chanel sports watch — implies she’s gearing up for a race of sorts. And she is. “In three weeks’ time, I’ll be on the starting block,” says Cleret of her yearly gig managing the Jimmy’z nightspot at the Cannes Film Festival.
This year, Fendi will host a lounge on the club’s terrace, with decoration provided by Fendi Casa. And with membership cards whittled down to 300, people are clamoring to get in.
“Half of my time is spent vetting requests,” says Cleret. “I really do want it to be a spot where the heavyweights of the industry can come to let their hair down.”
Having learned the trade during Paris’ heyday in the Eighties, a hedonistic nightlife era populated by the likes of Grace Jones and Jean Paul Gaultier, she says keeping up glamorous appearances is key. A Balmain mini or vintage Fifties dress, “lopped to the thigh,” are typical outfits for the hostess, matched with heels by Pierre Hardy and Christian Louboutin.
“I’m into old-school elegance,” says Cleret. “And I only wear black or white.”
In preparation, she’s been toning her gams with regular ballet lessons, topped off recently with daily runs in her local Parc Monceau.
“For two months leading up to the festival I’m on the computer from 8 a.m. through 1 a.m.,” says Cleret. “And when it gets late, it’s always tempting to reach out for a biscuit.”
But it’s not all about appearances. A hostess’ attitude, she insists, is the key to making a party swing.
“People have to see sincerity in your eyes, and you also have to feel comfortable in what you’re wearing, and not disguised,” says Cleret, adding that alcohol is the enemy.
“Adrenaline keeps me awake; the buzz of what’s going to happen in one hour, who’s going to roll in,” she says, adding that with a grueling schedule that involves crashing into bed at around 8 a.m. only to rise at midday to start rallying guests — on top of press junkets at the club — it’s important to keep her wits about her. Surprises can happen.
This story first appeared in the May 21, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“One day at midnight Olivier Martinez turned up wanting to bring his dog into the club; I must have been the only sucker in Cannes who fell for that one,” jokes Cleret. Then there was the time a curious Mick Jagger got too close to a giant Swarovski suspension and brought the whole thing clattering to the floor.
“It’s important to remain Zen,” she says, adding that one image captures what it’s all about. “It was around seven in the morning and Michael Madsen and Nick Nolte were still out on the terrace drinking whisky,” recalls Cleret. “And to me, having these monsters of Hollywood refusing to leave my party was an unbelievable high.”