Cannes, Cannes, Cannes… it’s hard to know where to start! I’m told by Jody herself, that one of the many places she draws inspiration from, is the stars. In particular, Jody’s referring to the stars on the Red Carpet to see what they are wearing and maybe what they should NOT of been wearing!
Dumbing it down slightly as only I know how, It’s like comparing it to motor racing; you’re expecting thrills and spills but also the odd car crash!
When we started this strange and wonderful journey, we set ourselves some minor goals that included:
Celebrity endorsements. Not just anyone though! We wanted celebrities to really share our love and passion that goes into making a Jody Bell garment.
Newspaper articles. It’s incredibly easy to buy column inches, but earning those inches is a long and hard slog to get discovered, which we were prepared to do.
TV Documentaries. Our story in our eyes is unique and the attention to detail and our passion for using craftsmen and women, is something we wanted to shout about.
Red Carpet Events. Having a woman chose to wear a Jody Bell to a Red Carpet event such as a movie premiere, is the stuff that dreams are made of.
These ﬁrst few goals, believe it or not, have been or are in the process of being achieved, such is the fanatic pace of this young brand. But the one thing that had alluded us, was the Red Carpet Premiere. We had come close when the lovely Kristina Rhianoff from Strictly Come Dancing attending the British movie premiere of Eddie The Eagle back in March. But Kristina was already quite far gone with her pregnancy and so opted to take with her a Jody Bell clutch bag rather than have a couture dress made for her. So the high ﬁves in Jody Bell towers when we saw the tremendous response from publications like the Mail Online, Mirror Online & OK magazine of her attending the premiere with her hand made leather clutch, were a more restrained affair instead of a furniture-breaking-ofﬁce-bundle.
And we knew we could do more; there was only one event in Europe that could match our expectations and that event would need to be the 69th Cannes Film Festival.
Phone calls after phone calls, emails, texts, whatsapp’s, you name it, we reached out to everyone, no stone unturned. Eventually we had our shortlist of actresses that would be attending the weeklong event and would be interested in having a dress made especially for them.
Big name ﬁlms like World War Z, Star Wars and the new British movie Absolutely Fabulous were thrown around the ofﬁce like we were big time Hollywood producers; we didn’t want just anyone - we wanted up and coming actresses and we wanted the mirror image of our brand; conﬁdent, inspiring women taking on the world.
We picked three very different actresses for three very different reasons. First up was the actress Aggy K Adams; a beautiful and talented actress who had starred in previous ﬁlms such as Eden Lodge, American Burger & World War Z (with Brad Pitt no less). Short dark hair and with a Angelina Jolie pout, she was like no other woman who had previously been seen in our clothes. Aggy was attending Cannes as part of the promotion for up and coming movies, but also as a guest of Young Talents who like us, had recognised that Aggy was a signiﬁcant ﬁnd in terms of both looks and acting style.
Next was lesser known actress Ayvianna Snow, attending the event like us for the ﬁrst time. Ayvianna’s striking resemblance to a certain famous Australian actress was almost a no brainer. We simply could not wait to see her in our clothes and almost didn’t care about the recently completed national tour of A Midsummer Night's Dream, or her new feature ﬁlm Requiem alongside Callum Best. For us she looked amazing and we desperately wanted her in our fashion ﬁlm and on the red carpet wearing a Jody Bell.
Then there’s our blockbuster girl, Eunice Olumide who has been in some of the largest box ofﬁce ﬁlms to come out in the last few years. Like Aggy, she was in World Wart Z, but this summer, she will be ﬁghting the evil empire as a rebel leader in the spin off of the recent J J Abrams Star Wars ﬁlm, Rogue One. And if that’s not enough screen time, she’s one of the material witnesses in the Kate Moss death scene, for the big screen version of the hit TV show, Absolutely Fabulous.
Armed with all these very distinctive and stylish actresses, Jody started designing three bespoke dresses that could grace any red carpet. We got the measurements from the girls, checked and double checked, then rang them again to conﬁrm Ayvianna was not in fact 7 foot tall and begun cutting the fabric to the exact size required!
Meanwhile, over with the fairies, I dreamt up a ﬁlm that would make the most of the event; the dresses, the actresses and the limited time and permissions we would have to organise with only a few weeks to go.
The idea was simple; Classic Riviera Hollywood. The images of Monroe, Kelly & Taylor gracing the small french seaside town located between Nice & St Tropez and just up the shoreline from the principality of Monte Carlo......aspirations of a full on feature ﬁlm kept me awake a night for a week with excitement.
Two days before the ﬁrst opening night, the aptly named “BellMobile” was ﬁlled to the rafters with dresses, cameras, shoes, hats, more cameras, lenses, a tripod and a few more dresses. Eventually we shoehorned ourselves in, and set off on our 11 hour drive from Gata De Gorgos in sleepy sunny Spain, to the cut and thrust of the decamped Hollywood world.
Arriving in a place where everywhere you look is glamour and glitz, is truly remarkable. Hotels such as the Martinez and the Majestic were taken over by huge studios promoting anything from the new Star Trek ﬁlm to the new George Clooney & Julia Roberts picture, Money Monster. Designer boutiques, once the focus of so much attention from passers by, are now backdrops to royalty of a populous fashion from a land far, far away. Elegant woman in wonderful ball gowns are not standing posing on the red carpet for photos, but instead standing on street corners asking if you have any spare tickets to that nights premiere.
Cannes, during the ﬁlm festival week, becomes one of those places where everyone looks at you twice just incase you are someone famous. And it’s addictive.... No sooner have you arrived, you ﬁnd yourself doing the exact same thing.
But it was down to business, so we left the gin palaces in the marina that resembled huge shinny children's toys and went to check into our secret weapon. Further down the coastline away from the madding crowd and tight security in the city of Nice, is a hotel with a history to rival even that of Cannes Film Festival.
The Hotel Negresco is one of the few family owned hotels of this calibre in existence. It’s around 100 years old with a magniﬁcent lobby and old fashioned lift whose door opens outwards to the unsuspecting. It’s rooms are a mix of superb opulence, with a hint of the Liberace, especially in our bathroom. The Mediterranean and it’s baby blue waters are your only view from the balcony - a true 5 star experience with everything being exceptional. Each ﬂoor has a different theme and appreciation of art, from modern and contemporary to impressionistic and in some cases plain weird is, in other words, the perfect backdrop to any fashion ﬁlm.
Names such as Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Kirk Douglas and even Coco Chanel herself have stayed there. As a ﬁlm buff and appreciating all things beautiful, every corner of this hotel was like a step back in time. I truly felt for a ﬂeeting moment like Alfred Hitchcock.
Later that day, the talented makeup artist Candy Fern ﬂew in from London to complete the slender production crew and it was game on
Our second location also in Nice, was the Rothschild Villa, a simply marvellous princess style house set in wonderful gardens, overlooking the millionaire or should I say billionaire yachts and cruise ships huddled in close proximity around the Mediterranean coastline. Now a museum, it resembles the mansion in Taylor Swift’s Blank Space video and was recently used in the movie Absolutely Fabulous.
With locations locked down, we scheduled Aggy & Avyianna on the same day to have both ﬁlm and photos taken in and around the Negresco. Quick costume changes, touch up makeup and hair, then back out to ﬁlm and take more photos was the order of the day, with both girls giving 100% dedication. It was at this point we got the call to really put a spring in our step!
Ayvianna had been invited to Steven Spielberg’s BFG premier that night! Being over an hour away and with not a lot of time to spare we jumped into the ‘BellMobile’ and headed straight to Cannes with last minute hair and make up being applied on route.
On arriving in Cannes, the trafﬁc was hideous; everyone had turned out for what was arguably the biggest ﬁlm to show at Cannes that year. Resembling more of a mother dropping the kids off late for school than a chauffeur, we got Ayvianna there just in time to be photographed on the red carpet. As Tom Cruise would of probably said “mission accomplished”.
Day two of the shoot was just as strange with being constantly interrupted by well wishers who had seen our red carpet debut. Instagrammer’s, Twitter followers and Facebook friends, all took time out of their busy lives to wish us well and helped forward on our success. Then Miles, Aggy’s agent rang to see if she would like to attend the premier of ‘Julieta’ ,a ﬁlm directed by the highly respected Spanish ﬁlm director Pedro Almodóvar. We were absolutely thrilled to have a dress made in Spain be at a premiere of a Spanish ﬁlm.
The perfect end to a perfect shoot you could say. However, the brief time we spent with Eunice Olumide highlighted just how much in demand an actress of her calibre is. Between takes, Eunice was asked to attend not one, not two but three after show parties from giants such as Vanity Fair and The Hollywood Reporter.
Icing on top of the cake springs to mind, with all three very beautiful, very talented and inspiring women wearing Jody Bell couture dresses to such world class events.
Was Cannes fun? Absolutely! An incredible achievement to pull off not only a fashion ﬁlm and photography with such wonderful women, but also to have our clothes on the Red Carpet of the arguably the most prestigious awards ceremony outside of BAFTA or The Academy Awards.
The bar has been set high and we are already aiming for another grand slam awards ceremony in the near future. As Jody says ‘we know where we belong and we work everyday to get there’!
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!