Harper’s Bazaar Arabia: What is your favourite thing about the Cannes Film Festival?
Caroline Scheufele: I think it’s in the name. It’s a film festival - it’s seeing and discovering new movies. I also love the unstoppable energy that’s everywhere here: on the red carpet, at night, in the morning. Our terrace is always full of new people, new and old friends, from all over the world and I think this is what I like most.
HBA: What’s been the biggest highlight of the Festival for you so far?
CS: It happened just today! For the very first time since the festival started, Julia Roberts, one of my favourite actresses, came and we dressed her for the red carpet with a big emerald necklace with white diamonds and a big drop pendant, as well as a big emerald ring. What was very cool was that she didn’t have any shoes on! There is one picture where she is on top of the stairs with her big Julia Roberts smile and she has the hand up and you can really see the ring well. It’s amazing.
HBA: What is your favourite memory from all the festivals you’ve been to?
CS: Oh, there’s many! Maybe meeting Elizabeth Taylor and showing her the collection. That was about eight, nine years back, and she was choosing something for the red carpet. She fell in love with a diamond necklace with a pink diamond ribbon and the earrings. Actually she broke the earrings! She said: “It doesn’t matter, I want to wear the necklace and then mix it with some of my own pieces that match.” Later, her bodyguard called me at like, two the morning and said, “Mrs. Taylor doesn’t want to give back the necklace yet, she wants to sleep with it.” Seeing as she had about six bodyguards in her house, it was fine with me! The next morning at 11am, I received another call from her bodyguard saying, “Mrs. Taylor doesn’t want to give the necklace back, she would like the best price.” So I gave her the best price and she bought it. She also wanted to see the rest of the collection, so I went to her villa with a big array of pieces. I laid them out on this low coffee table and I remember she had this little dog that was walking all over the jewellery. Then she showed me her jewellery items, and we mixed them with ours. It was a great experience to sit in front of such an iconic actress.
HBA: Who was the one celebrity that you met at the Festival who you were really impressed by?
CS: Elizabeth Taylor was one of them, but I really love Marion Cotillard. When she won the Chopard Trophy, nobody one knew her at the time. We have been with her from the very beginning of when she started and seven years later she got the Oscar. I think it very nice following a rising talent. She’s a fantastic actress and an adorable friend.
Marion Cotillard wins the Chopard Trophy in 2004. Getty Images
HBA: When you are preparing for this trip, how much do you think about what you are going to be wearing? How long do you spend packing in your suitcase?
CS: I am very quick and fast. I always pack at the last minute. I sort of know what I want, but I have a lot of friends at fashion houses that dress for me for this trip. I love Elie Saab, Ralph & Russo and Dolce & Gabbana.
HBA: Who’s been a highlight for you this trip, in terms of someone who’s been dressing you?
CS: At the Vanity Fair party last night I had a beautiful dress from Ralph & Russo. It was a sort of chocolate-bronze-brown – it was a very unusual colour and I thought it was very elegant. And the red Lanvin dress with the red ribbon. We are only five days down the road, I still have a lot in front of me!
HBA: Other than dresses, what are your essentials for this trip?
CS: Jeans and flat shoes, like ballerinas or sandals. I’m always running around the terrace so I need something comfortable.
HBA: What about the jewellery? How do you decide which pieces you wear throughout the day and which pieces are for the evenings?
CS: I obviously have my favourites. They are all my babies. I pick the ones that are very close to my heart. I often start with the jewellery and then I look for the dress. In my opinion, that’ the way it should be, because the jewellery is much more valuable than the dress.
HBA: Tell me about the Red Carpet Collection…
CS: The inspiration for the red carpet collection for me was women from all over the world -the different cultures, nationalities, ages, hair colours, skintones. Obviously they don’t all have the same taste so when you open the Red Carpet book, it’s very versatile. There are pieces that are very delicate, fine and elegant also for the younger women and then there are pieces that are very extravagant and colourful and I think that’s what makes the red carpet very lively.
HBA: You redesigned the logo for the film festival. What was the inspiration behind this?
CS: The Pendant… (Petra Němcová stops by the table to say hello to Caroline)
HBA: Wow, she looks fantastic.
CS: Yes she's one of our ambassadors and a very, very fantastic soul, with a lovely heart.
HBA: Have you been working with her for a long time?
CS: Three, four years? There’s a red version of this bracelet (she says as she gestures towards her wrist) that was her bracelet for the foundation she started to help build schools all around the world. She had a terrible incident in her life: she was about to get married and she lost her fiancé in the Tsunami. She was hanging on a tree, they had to cut her out. When she recovered, she saw the need for schools in these disaster zones because the Red Cross moves in at the start but then nothing happens after, so you need schools for the children to attend. So she started with one school, and now she has 120 in several places where there has been natural disasters. With this little bracelet, we help her. But I digress, that was not in your interview!
HBA: No, but that’s a lovely story to come out of something so painful. So, tell us about the inspiration and the process behind redesigning the logo for the film festival?
CS: Well, nineteen years ago now I met the president of the Film Festival. I actually only wanted to do one event because we had opened the boutique on the Croisette. Since I’m a movie lover, I wanted to do it during the Festival but I didn’t want to be like a squatter, so I went to Paris and met the president. In the conversation he told me that they didn’t have a watch and jewellery partner, so I suggested that we work on something for the long run, in addition to a fabulous party. As we were talking, I looked behind him and saw the Palme D’Or in his bibliothèque. He told me, “It’s fifty years old, it could do with a facelift!” I then reminded him that my first job was being a designer. I said, “Maybe I could come up with some ideas on how the Palme could look more glamourous and valuable?” He agreed and that’s how it happened. I literally left Paris with the Palme under my arm and I redesigned it.
HBA: How long did it take you to redesign it?
CS: A couple of months. We had to keep the same number of leaves as it was otherwise they had to change the whole registration all over the world because the Palme is registered as a logo. It didn’t take that long because it was really very inspiring. Before, it was a sort of flat, like a car had run over it and I gave it volume so you can see the leaves. Also, at the end of the stem of the palm leaf there is a little heart, which is the little touch of Chopard.
HBA: If you had a day off in Cannes how would you spend it?
CS: At the beach, having something light to eat like a beautiful salad and a glass of white wine and enjoying the sun.
HBA: Which is your favourite hotel to stay in when you’re here?
CS: For many years, we have stayed at the Martinez. I think it has the most beautiful terrace in the whole of the Croisette. This is sort of our little house during the fifteen days – and it’s practical too because a lot of actresses stay here. One hotel that I love, but isn’t practical for us with all of the back and forth we’d need to do, is the Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc.
HB: Is there one place that you like to visit every time you come here for the festival?
CS: I love the restaurant Tetou. It’s the famous bouillabaisse place.
HBA: Is there one thing that you love the most about the fact that the Film Festival is in the South of France?
CS: The sea and the palms – they give it a very special sort of atmosphere. It’s a perfect movie setting. Even sometimes when the weather is not so nice, when it’s rainy or cloudy, it’s still very magical.
HBA: Is there anything that you haven’t had the chance to do in Cannes that you would like to do?
CS: We have a big year coming up next year. It’s the 20th anniversary for us and the 70th anniversary of the Festival. So we are already brainstorming with the Festival about a beautiful joint event that we can hold together for the anniversary. Something is cooking but I can’t talk about it yet. Stay tuned!
As told to Lisa Rokny