As my plane descended gently onto a landing strip by the French Riviera after a 13-hour flight from Singapore to Nice, the charming houses lining the coast came into view. Painted in shades of ivory and topped with terracotta roofs, the quaint sight set the mood for what was to come later that evening.
Soon enough, my car was stopping outside a hotel, the entrance to which was thronged by a horde of celebrity spotters and paparazzi. As I weaved amongst them and stepped inside, I was met with yet another crowd in the lobby. Some paced up and down while speaking into their phones, others stood around silently, wonder written all over their faces. Either way, the excitement was palpable.
“Welcome to the Hôtel Martinez!” greeted a receptionist from behind the counter. “This is where all the celebrities are staying,” she said knowingly, as if she had somehow heard my inner thoughts. In that moment, I realised that the intensity filling the room was emanating from a horde of anxious creatives (fashion stylists, make-up and hair artists, brand representatives and photographers) waiting to be let into their rooms. As I surveyed their anxious faces, it dawned upon me that the clock was ticking—and it was nearly showtime.
An hour later, I was back in the lobby, all suited up. The room was no quieter, but this time, the air smelt like a mish-mash of Angel from Mugler and Oud from Tom Ford. Alton Mason, the first black male model to have walked for Chanel, brushed past me hurriedly—clad in full Balenciaga—as we jostled our way through the mob and into our respective cars.
Our evening at the Cannes Film Festival was about to begin, and the first item on my agenda was to walk the red carpet for the world premiere of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. The film was being presented out of competition, with a screening hosted by Chopard.
Chopard’s long-standing relationship with the Cannes Film Festival is second to none. Driven by a love of artistry and film, the brand had first joined hands with the prestigious institution in 1998. Thanks to Chopard’s dedication in supporting up-and-coming talents in the film industry year upon year, we as an audience have witnessed the rise of some of the greatest actors of our time—from Natalie Portman and Sheila Atim to Naomi Ackie and Daryl McCormack. The latter two are the freshly-minted recipients of the Trophée Chopard, an award founded by the maison in 2001 to recognise and encourage emerging stars within the film industry.
Out of the 12 days of the festival, today would be particularly significant. “We are about to witness one of the festival’s most prestigious moments—the Palme d’Or of Honour being awarded to the greatest actor of this century,” shared my companion, a Chopard representative and Cannes veteran. The award, designed and crafted to exquisite perfection by Chopard, was to be given to an actor or filmmaker by the Cannes Film Festival to commemorate their career.
As I waited in line at the Palais des Festivals to walk the red carpet, I heard the crowd behind me go up in raucous cheers. I turned quickly to witness the arrival of the entire cast of Indiana Jones. First came the inimitable Harrison Ford, with his wife Calista Flockhart in tow. Mads Mikkelsen—who is presently breaking TikTok with his ageless good looks—walked in minutes later, joined by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Shaunette Renée Wilson and the very bright and young Ethann Isidore. The troupe of actors put on a glorious display, parading back and forth, waving to fans and soaking in the remarkable atmosphere.
Finally, it was my turn. I was rapidly given cues: “Look out for the bald photographer on your left, then proceed to the one with the silver mane on your right”. I stepped forward—holding on to my bag with an iron grip—repeating my mantra and reminding myself to keep my chin down. “Breathe, count and change your angles.” After all my years of directing models and personalities to look their best from behind the lens, this would be my own test. And as I tried my best to conjure some semblance of good posture, cameras flashed one after another, reminding me that I was walking down one of the most emblematic red carpets in fashion and film history.
In a matter of seconds, frantic hands started to wave in my face, asking for me to move. “Adriana!” shouted the photographers. That was when I realised that Victoria’s Secret Angel and supermodel Adriana Lima had taken over the red carpet—dripping in Chopard, no less.
I stepped aside, laughing with the crew as we found our seats just in time to join the heart-warming standing ovation for Harrison Ford. As the iconic actor accepted the Palme d’Or of Honour for his illustrious work through the decades, he cemented Chopard’s legacy further as a patron of the arts.
The night culminated wondrously, in a two and a half-hour screening of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny followed by a gorgeous rooftop dinner hosted by Chopard. In the few moments of quiet I found right towards the end of the day, I reflected on all the hard work that had gone into making the Cannes Film Festival happen—ending my inaugural stint with newfound appreciation for everything that went on behind the scenes of the coveted experience.