All That Glitters. May 2013.

Dear Rowley,

Quite the thrill that the Pink Panther struck again at the 66th Cannes Film Festival this week. The first hit was a million dollars of Chopard diamonds from a Novotel safe in Cannes. To paraphrase Lady Bracknell, to lose $1 million in diamonds may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose them in a Novotel is tragic. The second heist was rather more magnifique after a Cary Grant fashion. De Grisogono celebrated 20 years in the business with a runway show at the devastatingly chic Hotel du Cap and when the models returned the jewels to one of the hotel’s suites, a diamond and emerald necklace worth $2.6 million had vanished like smoke up the Vatican chimney.

No, you weren’t the first person to  surmise that my invitation to the amfAR gala at the Hotel du Cap last night was a mere front and I have in fact been the light fingered scourge of the Riviera: the Cat of the Cap d’Antibes. You clearly have an overactive imagination though, do admit, the jewels on display last night would have tempted a nun to kick a hole in a stained glass window. In London jewels only come out of the family vault for weddings and coronations. In Cannes the tiara’s set before you order your first noisette.

It is quite bizarre finding oneself in black tie while the sun is still beating down but that’s the drill when amfAR’s red carpet arrival time is 5.30pm. How to describe the mayhem en route to the Hotel du Cap? The roads from Juan les Pins to Antibes were cordoned off, fleets of cars were backed up like a Mafia funeral and you couldn’t get past security without having your fingers inked and an iris scan. I shared a car the size of a Black Maria with Gary and Bonnie Wright. Bonnie has youth on her side and form on the red carpet so had the smarts to wear a floor-length Prada and effortlessly chic gold cascade Wright & Teague earrings that struck the right balance between glamour and insouciance.

The same could not be said of couture clad gilded lilies made-up for high definition TV cameras . There’s something of the Stepford Wives about the hourglass beaded evening dresses, hair as hard as plexiglass and faces smooth as a CGI graphic with the only sign of life the light dancing through the diamonds hanging like chandeliers from their lobes. Not a few Medusa eyes turned on Bonnie who breezed down the red carpet looking fresh as dew without having to resort to the embalmer’s art.

Certain stars know how to dress for Cannes. Goldie Hawn is one of them. I had a terrific pitch at the end of the red carpet as Goldie dollied-up wearing a voluminous canary yellow caftan, gold strappy sandals, kooky shades and a bejewelled gold Xenia Warrior Princess cuff around her upper arm. How she’s managed to smuggle her Laugh In looks past the 1960s is beyond comprehension but I suspect a happy marriage and large family is the clincher.  Compared to Goldie, a lot of the red carpet FemBots young enough to be her granddaughters looked jaded.

Not a few of the ladies on the amfAR guest list must have rued the day they were tattooed. Even veiled with chiffon, inked skin looks about as elegant as a barcode on a packet of Waitrose pork loin. Many had chosen skintight, floor length gowns that they’d been poured into and the stylist had forgotten to say when. The amfAR gala is a marathon and the ladies who dressed for the photo opportunity must have looked at Goldie Hawn and conceded that mother really does know best.

There is something over and above sinister men in black muttering into headsets that announces the arrival of a Star. When Leonardo DiCaprio took the long walk from the hotel to the Champagne terrace guests parted like the Red Sea then eddied around him bobbing up and down like overexcited seal pups. Mr DiCaprio’s arrival was nothing compared to Sharon Stone’s entrance. The Queen of the amfAR auction manifested herself in a floor length white Roberto Cavalli falling into a regal train that required a black-clad bearer to follow her around like a Nubian slave.

Miss Stone has become the self-appointed successor to Elizabeth Taylor at the annual amfAR dinners. Well, it’s between she and Harvey Weinstein though I suspect Sharon looks rather better in the frocks and the rocks. I was rather in awe of Sharon Stone and have been ever since her performance as Ginger in Casino who explains a custom-made case filled with $2 million dollars’ worth of Bulgari jewels to her on-screen daughter with the line ‘because Daddy loves Mummy very much’. Miss Stone is a sexy-dirty-classy star of a vintage not seen since Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth and Lauren Bacall. Why isn’t she working? Why don’t I write her a screenplay?

2013 is the amfAR gala’s 20th anniversary so we all knew it was going to be quite the event. The dinner was a seated catered affair for 900 in the landscaped grounds of the Hotel du Cap with placements designed by Roberto Cavalli. Tables were $10,000 a plate for those who had to pay. Shirley Bassey and Duran Duran entertained and the auction was hosted by various members of the A-list Hollywood audience. I haven’t even begun about the runway show ‘curated’ by Carine Roitfeld or the gold jewels on show that actually brought me to Cannes. Can you bear to wait until my next letter? I need a G&T and bed in Bloomsbury Towers. Until next time…