CANNES, France — “There’s a madness to Cannes unlike any other film festival,” said the Dior Homme-clad actor Elijah Wood at the opening bash last Thursday for “Paris, je t’aime” held on the wooden deck of Cannes’ old port. Nearby, co-star Aïssa Maïga, wearing a red Elie Saab couture gown and a substantial Chopard diamond choker, darted nervous backward glances at her bodyguard.

At the bar, a grizzled Nick Nolte, sporting polkadot suspenders, was engrossed in conversation with Juliette Binoche. “I was telling her about an old gag Woody Harrelson and I once pulled on Sean Penn involving a cop,” growled Nolte, pretending to pull out a pistol.

Nearby, Catalina Sandino Moreno, who just wrapped up shooting for “The Hottest State,” written and directed by Ethan Hawke, raved about her costumes for her next venture, the period costume drama “The Heart of the Earth.” “It’s impossible to breathe in the corsets, but it’s quite something to feel transported to another era,” said the rising Colombian star. Dressed in Armani Privé, she said she doesn’t normally give fashion a second thought. Indeed, on Saturday, she opted for a pair of old Ray-Bans and a vintage summer dress to join co-stars Hawke and Ana Claudia Talancón for the “Fast Food Nation” cocktail party at the American Pavilion.

“It sounds like McDonald’s may be coming after us, but I’m not losing any sleep,” quipped director Richard Linklater about the film, which is certain to turn many viewers off of hamburgers. Fittingly, a vegetarian spread was put out for guests.

That night, despite the snowflakes, glaciers and polar bears hanging from the ceiling at the Carlton Hotel, temperatures soared at Chopard’s annual Trophy Awards dinner, where guests crammed in to watch a series of performances opened by the Spanish flamenco dancer Joaquín Cortés. By the time the showgirls hit the stage, even De Grisognono president Fawaz Gruosi sprang up to twirl on a dance pole.

This story first appeared in the May 23, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Festival jury member Ziyi Zhang, herself a trained dancer, was overwhelmed by the flamenco din. “I prefer tap dancing, or ‘tee taa wu,’ in Chinese,” she said, fleeing the room.

“I love classical ballet,” purred Liz Hurley, clad in deep purple Versace. Hurley said she was in town for the first catwalk show of her swimwear line, which now includes styles for children.

There was no shortage of sparkle at the event, with David Furnish flashing his Chopard wedding ring. His hubby, Sir Elton John, had gone home to bed with a sore throat, leaving Furnish to catch up later with Tom Ford, Paris Hilton, Al Gore and crew at the Vanity Fair party.

The rest of the crowd piled into the Nikki Beach club to watch Dita Von Teese perform her pinup routine under the adoring oddball eyes of husband Marilyn Manson. “I’ll be back next year for the screening of my own film, ‘Phantasmagoria: The Visions of Lewis Carroll,'” said Manson, who will occupy the director’s chair in October.

Von Teese said she always travels with her own clothes instead of borrowing from fashion houses. “I like to do it the old-fashioned way,” she said.

But the approach does have its perils. “I landed in Cannes with barely a toothbrush and even managed to leave my dresses behind on the plane,” confessed Sarah Michelle Gellar, who managed to scare up a Vera Wang number for the premiere of “Southland Tales.” “I don’t know what I was thinking.” The star relaxed with the film crew and “X-Men” pal Rebecca Romijn on the Big Eagle yacht before scurrying off to prepare for her ascent up the red carpet.