Crimes against fashion in Cannes
The South of France – particularly the Cote d’Azur – has a reputation for being chic.
After a night in Cannes on Friday, I can honestly say that I have no idea why this is the case. It is probably the least chic place I have ever been. Far less chic, even, than the strip malls in suburban America that I used to frequent growing up outside Boston. Less chic than any student town. And far, far less chic than Hampstead. Than Bethnal Green. Than Finsbury Park. Even, than Birmingham.
I’ve been to Monaco before and had a similar impression – though it was a brief drive-through. Designer shops, Porsche SUVs, tiny tanned women tottering under the weight of their Gucci bags and diamonds, a seaside boardwalk, palm trees, and everything offensively overpriced.
Cannes, though. I was invited there for a boat show – a yacht show, more accurately. Yachts (the ones without sails) starting at 8 million pounds. Before heading to the harbour, we relaxed on a jetty belonging to our hotel, which- despite us staying at the hotel – cost 62 euros per chair. Or, I relaxed while my host spent two hours explaining our booking of two, not one, rooms to the woman at the desk who seemed to be on drugs and also – like most French people in the hospitality industry – to hate both people and hospitality.
Anyway, it was on the jetty that that I first began to note Cannes’ acreage of leathered tanned skin . Chic? Yes, if you consider the results of an indolent life spent frying yourself chic. At the yacht show, the consorts of the billionaires looked ok as they perused de Beers diamonds alongside the Princess and Sunseeker yachts. They looked par for the course – former models mostly dressed decently.
It wasn’t until we got to Baoli’s – Cannes’ answer to Mahiki (or is it the other way round?) – that the real fashion-icide kicked in. After being shoved into a corner to down cocktails while our table remained unapologetically not ready for an hour, we were finally given a hot seat. From here we could survey the crowd and – for France’s sake – I can only hope it was
Russian. In front was an orange-skinned super-blonde wearing a Burberry checked wraparound dress and stilettoes. With that print it is impossible to distinguish between the real and the fake. Anyway, in such a place, the two become one. So the dress was bad enough. But at night? In a club? Quel horreur. Meanwhile, a motley troupe of podgy men and their model concubines appeared. Not only were their dance moves terrifying, the women seemed bound to some Soviet pact to wear metallics and animal prints only. Oh, we also had a skin-tight vinyl playsuit on a 6 ft girl with a headband. There was another lady in a super-mini leopard print dress with exceptionally poor dance moves. Then there were the metal-bubble trousers encasing another one. At this, we dropped our forks and gawped. Have you ever seen leggings made out of metal bubbles? Nor me. Chic? Not quite.
A new bevvy had entered causing us to wonder if perhaps we were at a high school prom but hadn’t realised. Their togs included turquoise dresses with swoops of fabric across the chest and best of all, a white clingy number with one long ruched sleeve with metal decoration- the other arm bare. My fashionable male friend Sam could not stop chortling at this one. In the run-up to London Fashion Week, I can only hope we manage to outdo the south of France. As long as we avoid the metal bubble leggings we should be fine. As for the moral of the story: the visitors to and residents of Cannes seem to have lost sight one one crucial thing: though it can buy the Burberry monogramme and magnums of Grey Goose, money alone can’t buy class.