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May 23, 2008
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No such thing as a bad hair day at Cannes

May 23, 2008

Canadian actress Rachel Blanchard at the Cannes International Film Festival - Photo : Fred Dufour/AFP
CANNES, France, May 23, 2008 (AFP) - Mere mortals can have them, but bad hair days are absolutely taboo amongst the crowd of A-list stars and super models who come to the Cannes film festival to see and be seen.

Celebrities, unlike ordinary folk however, have a few secret weapons at their disposal to ensure they look their best in front of the battery of photographers who follow their every move during their Cannes stay.

They can pick and chose from among the world's leading hairdressers, in Cannes expressly to ensure their locks are in fabulous form, as well as find a the creme-de-la-creme of make-up artists.

But life during the 14-day movie marathon for the behind-the-scenes hair and make-up artists is a far cry from the hectic round of film premieres, photo calls and parties their clients grace.

"The festival is a real marathon. We have to juggle appointments," said Veronique Abrial who heads the team at Dessange, the official festival hairdresser.

France's popular "Madame Figaro" magazine calculated that the 22-strong Dessange team notch up the equivalent of a five-kilometre mini-marathon during the Cannes fortnight as they race from one hotel suite to another.

And with up to three red carpet premieres a day, there are lots of clients all wanting that special touch.

Hairdressing, though, isn't the only skill they need.

"We need to be very responsive, imaginative and very perceptive. Just like any client, a star must often be reassured that she's going to look beautiful. Sometimes the agent sticks their oar in, then you need to stand your ground as you're the expert," Abrial stressed.

She said the odd caprice here and there is also part and parcel of a hairdresser's lot, such as the star who insisted that the stylist doing her hair must not style any other Cannes celebrity.

Dessange does the hair of all the members of the star-studded Cannes jury which includes actresses Natalie Portman and France's Jeanne Balibar.

But many other famous names also pass under their hands, including super models Eva Herzigova and Bar Rafaeli and actresses Goldie Hawn and Chiara Mastroianni.

Jury president, actor-director Sean Penn, who favours the short, dishevelled, bad boy-look, doesn't tax their skills too much.

"We just cleaned up the nape of his neck," said Abrial.

Other famous hairdressers have also turned up, vying to style the galaxy of stars as well as the hottest up-and-coming actors.

Franck Provost, who has a string of salons that stretch from Paris via Qatar to India's film capital, Mumbai, has come with 10 of his best stylists.

American superstar Sharon Stone, who was sporting a short, sexy blond cut on the red carpet, is one of Provost's regular clients.

But pop diva, Madonna, who was here for her movie-making debut, has her own personal hairdresser who accompanies her around the world.

The Material Girl though, was sporting distinctly dark roots in her centre-parted short blond hair -- a look that's unlikely to catch on with the bevy of perfectly-coiffed A-listers gracing the famed Palais des Festival's steps.

The hairstyles at this Cannes festival vary widely with no one trend dominating.

Angelina Jolie, Goldie Hawn and Alice Taglioni have all gone for long, flowing locks, while others including Spain's Penelope Cruz and Israeli top model Bar Rafaeli have opted for elegant, upswept styles.

But as regards make-up, there is a distinct vogue at this Cannes for smokey, sexy eyes.

"Smokey eyes are this year's trend for evening red carpets as actors like to have the focus on their eyes," Nika Balfour, a member of the festival's official make-up partner, L'Oreal, told AFP.

And there will be plenty to eye up in Cannes over the remaining days of the festival as the competition for the coveted Palme d'Or heats up ahead of the star-studded closing ceremony Sunday.by Audrey Stuart and Jean-Francois Guyot

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