CANNES, France (AP) — For most of the year, room 331 of the Martinez Hotel is just your run-of-the mill luxury five star hotel suite.
But during the Cannes Film Festival, it is radically transformed into a red carpet emergency room — where celebrities like Naomi Watts and Nicole Kidman can rush if they pop out of a dress, or a zipper breaks minutes before their film premieres at the Cannes Palais, the festival HQ just a stone’s throw away.
Paris fashion house Elie Saab is room 331’s occupant this year, equipped with fitters, assistants and tailors in full war mode.
“There’s always drama,” said Emilie Legendre Guillaumaud, Elie Saab’s head of communications. “This year we’ve dressed Naomi Watts, with Lea Seydoux, Sonam Kapoor and Aishwarya Rai coming in here.”
“We haven’t had any emergencies this year,” she said, before pausing. “So far.”
The last day is the one normally packed with the most drama, she said, because winning actresses are often called back unexpectedly for the awards ceremony.
That happened to Cannes best actress winner Berenice Bejo, star of “The Artist,” who in 2013 had to be flown in at the eleventh hour from Paris.
“It was the very last minute before the ceremony that we had to fit her,” said Legendre Guillaumaud. “It’s very stressful.”
The Martinez’s close proximity — half a mile — from the festival location makes it a perfect location. Top actresses can hop into their limos and be driven down the glamorous croisette in style, with spectators unaware of the drama that has just transpired.
Legendre Guillaumaud recounts how the entourage of Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi once rushed in within minutes of the ceremony.
“Major alterations were needed so we just cut the dress, and the stylist ran off along with it,” she said.
Sometimes the red carpet emergency room team needs to go into the Palais to sew actresses into dresses. That is especially the case for members of the Cannes jury, who are holed up in a bunker before the awards ceremony, sequestered from the press.
“One member of the jury, actress Alexandra Maria Lara, was in the bunker and burst out of the dress and the zipper broke,” said Legendre Guillaumaud. “We literally had to stitch her into it back stage just before she went on.”
The red carpet can be a cruel world — but there is help out there.
Thomas Adamson Twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP
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