CANNES — Led by Julianne Moore, star of the thriller “Blindness,” which kicks off the Cannes International Film Festival today, a formidable cast of leading ladies is expected to mount the event’s fabled red steps over the coming days — all in need of a frock.

And fashion designers are equally eager to dress the stars, many of them already attached to brands. These include Cate Blanchett, Scarlett Johansson, Angelina Jolie, Lucy Liu, Christina Ricci, Penélope Cruz and Ziyi Zhang, as well as jury member Natalie Portman, who is said to have been directing a self-penned short film for the “New York, I Love You” anthology right up to boarding the plane for the festival.

This story first appeared in the May 14, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Giorgio Armani has lots of big fish in his net already, having announced that he will dress Blanchett, Sean Penn, Harrison Ford, Joaquin Phoenix and Aishwarya Rai during the festival.

Roberto Cavalli, who wrangled 70 dresses onto stars during last year’s festival, has added an extra suite to his showroom at the Hotel Martinez, equipped with three seamstresses and stocking around 150 gowns. Jimmy Choo, also situated in the hotel, will offer around-the-clock hand-dyeing and heel-altering services. Swarovski will have a customized dyeing service for the first time for three of its Red Carpet clutches.

Rumor has it Louis Vuitton will dress Mélanie Laurent for the opening of her first directorial effort, “De Moins en Moins” (“Less and Less”). At age 25, Laurent is one of the youngest directors to have been nominated for the festival’s short film section. Ziyi and Adrien Brody are also likely to be dressed by Vuitton during the festival, according to a source.

Linda Evangelista, Eva Herzigova and Milla Jovovich are also expected to roll into town, while speculation is that Bar Refaeli will don the mega-expensive bejeweled gown created by Chopard’s Caroline Gruosi-Scheufele and designer Alberta Ferretti at the festival’s opening night ceremony, followed by an after party where Juliette Lewis will be manning the decks. The gown will later be auctioned at the amfAR gala, whose after party will be hosted by Fendi. The Roman fashion house is also reprising its “Fendi O” private club at Jimmy’z for the two-week festival.

 

Also tonight, L’Oréal spokeswomen Eva Longoria and Eva Mendes will host the Nikki Beach Kick Off in its nightclub at the Palais Stephanie with a performance by Macy Gray.

Madonna is also headed to Cannes to promote “I Am Because We Are,” a documentary about children orphaned by AIDS in Malawi, while Mischa Barton will walk the Croisette for the thriller “You and I.”

Hot tickets for the festival’s night owls, meanwhile, include the Vanity Fair party at the Hotel du Cap on Saturday, followed by the watertight after party for the “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Skull” premiere on Sunday.

Fashion is never far on the party circuit, though, from Costume National’s opening night dinner for the “Blindness” cast at the Hotel Costes’ ephemeral restaurant at Orange Beach opposite the Carlton hotel, to a private Chopard cocktail Saturday for Woody Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” and its cast, including Johansson, Cruz and Rebecca Hall. Agnès b. will also host a private party for Bruce Weber’s Eighties documentary “Let’s Get Lost.” A typically rock ‘n’ roll crowd is expected to attend the event, including Yoko Ono, Patti Smith, Pedro Almodóvar, Jim Jarmusch, Lou Doillon and Placebo’s Brian Molko.

New retail additions to the Croisette, meanwhile, include stores from Bottega Veneta — which will host “The Knot: A Retrospective,” on May 21 — and Balenciaga, which recently opened its second French store in Cannes. Designed by Nicolas Ghesquière and Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, the two-story boutique’s basement contains an ambient “exploration gallery” situated below sea level that features wall panels covered in numeric mirrors and aluminium leaves, as well as a green marble floor containing a central strip of blue sodalite, designed to evoke an underground lake.

A fleet of Italian fashion vessels has set sail for Cannes, including Ferretti’s “Prometej” and the Missoni family’s “Pegasus.” The latter will host a private summer benefit fete for OrphanAid Africa on Friday, organized by Margherita Maccapani and the British concierge company Quintessentially. Four days before the amfAR gala, Cavalli is due to sail in on his 41-meter-long motoryacht “R & C,” which will be moored in the old port.

 

 

The boat sports a special iridescent paint that glows a golden-purplish tint when the sun is high, shifting to navy blue at sunset.

 

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