Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 21 September 2019

Celebrity treatment: a peek inside the famed DPA Gift Lounge at Cannes

The celebrity-favoured suite focused on beauty treatments at this year’s film festival

Sheer Necessity’s Coffee Addict shower and bath scrub
Sheer Necessity’s Coffee Addict shower and bath scrub

In an age of smartphones, the appetite to capture and view anyone’s images any time and anywhere, has made the life of a celebrity like a constant game of cat and mouse. As if the paparazzi weren’t bad enough, now anyone with a camera phone – basically everyone – can double as a photographer, capturing images of the glam set that may not show them looking or feeling their best.

It’s little wonder that actors, models and filmmakers are constantly seeking out ways to relax, away from the spotlight. And they can find it, somewhat paradoxically, at the Cannes Film Festival, thanks to Nathalie Dubois.

The event producer, known as the Queen of Gift Lounges, has been managing the DPA suite – where most movie delegations opt to spend their free time while attending the prestigious cinema event – for more than a decade. This year, when researching products for the gift lounge, Dubois realised that what celebrities craved was a place away from the hustle and bustle of the Croisette, where they could unwind and walk out feeling better about themselves.

The lounge is located inside the famous Carlton Hotel, and usually offers a variety of products that can take a celebrity from streetwear to red carpet in just a few steps. Yet this time around, Dubois chose differently, focusing on the spa aspect of the beauty routine in her suite, and featuring body sculpting treatments, laser facials and even a caviar food supplement that provides nutrients without any unnecessary calories.

Two of the surest beauty trends this year are a newfound streamlined approach to how we purchase products – think less is more – as well as combining beauty and health into a single philosophy. The idea is if you feel great inside, you end up looking good on the outside.

For example, DPA offered its guests Crave Free by Cavi Pur, a natural caviar ­supplement that takes advantage of the fish eggs’ life-generating capabilities and superfood qualities. Crave Free promises to feed, regenerate and protect your body on a cellular level, although none of its claims have been confirmed by the FDA thus far. But then again, adding a little caviar to a beauty regime never hurt anyone. Just ask a certain famous French beauty brand, which has been selling out of its caviar face cream for decades.

Crave Free by Cavi Pur, a natural caviar supplement, at the DPA lounge at Cannes 
Crave Free by Cavi Pur, a natural caviar supplement, at the DPA lounge at Cannes

When I visited DPA earlier this week, I left feeling refreshed both on the inside and out. First, I spent 30 minutes getting a truSculpt iD personalised body treatment, which feels a lot like a hot stone massage and targets fat cells with no downtime. While I’m told the results will be visible in 12 weeks, the procedure had me feeling instantly more relaxed.

Next I tried Laser Genesis, which utilises micro-pulses of laser energy to activate collagen, thus improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The ­procedure ­promises a “#cameraready” effect and is painless and non-invasive, immediately plumping the skin, which makes the results apparent right away. The treatment was offered by Haas Wellness Centre, using Cutera equipment, and there are several salons across the UAE fitted out with the same machines.

Designer Keiichiro Fukushima will create bags for select celebrities at the DPA lounge this year
Keiichiro Fukushima will create bags for select celebrities at the DPA lounge this year

For red-carpet-ready skin, the lounge had Sheer ­Necessity’s Coffee Addict shower and bath scrub, which banks on the antioxidant and anti-­inflammatory qualities of ­organic coffee beans. Mixed into coconut, olive and ­avocado oils, coffee becomes an ­energising and ­delicious way to start off a morning routine, and the scrub can be used on body and face alike, as a wash but also as a mask (no brewing necessary).

To highlight this newly toned body and moisturised skin, the DPA lounge also had on offer, for a few, lucky ­celebrity guests, beautiful French-made By Zia 24K gold-­plated ­jewellery, as well as ­handcrafted bags and ­leather goods by Japanese ­designer Keiichiro ­Fukushima. A style guru ­himself, ­Fukushima works with each client to create a ­personalised, one-of-a-kind bag that combines his impeccable aesthetic and respect for the environment.

A chat with Zeina Nabulsi at Cannes

After getting all pretty and camera-ready at the DPA gift lounge at Cannes, it was time to visit couturier Zeina Nabulsi. The half-Palestinian, half-Jordanian designer, who lives in Beirut, studied fashion at Central Saint Martins in London and worked with Elie Saab. It was Saab who gave her the big break she needed right after college, although Nabulsi had looked up to him long before then when, as a child, she figured out that her mum’s glamour stemmed in part from his beautiful dresses. “I want to grow up to be like him,” a young Nabulsi thought.

Now a Cannes regular, she looks at the festival as “a key marketing platform for brands and designers, since every other talented person attends it and it connects to audiences all around the world”. She is in town this year as part of charity events and has dressed celebrities such as Zuri Hall, Vanessa Lengies, Lisa Loeb, Ava West, Fagun Thakrar and Saba Mubarak in the past.

Zeina Nabulsi attending the World Premiere of Spectre, held at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
Zeina Nabulsi

As the watered silks, reembroidered laces and rosette applique on her outfits demonstrate, there is nothing low-key or subdued about a Zeina Nabulsi haute couture creation, even if her approach to fashion is “simplicity is key”.

Of the latest trends for the red carpet, the designer notes that there are “a lot of metallic fabrics, silver, pink, red, fluorescents and just a lot of shine”. Case in point, Julianne Moore’s short, silver, sequined Valentino dress with a degrade green border effect, which the actress wore to the Luca Guadagnino press conference with Valentino’s creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli.

Nabulsi adds that favourite silhouettes include “big dresses with lots of volume, and you will be seeing some trouser suits, which are very in right now,” even on the red carpet.

Although she has a celebrity following, Nabulsi says she finds beauty in every woman. When preparing to dress a client – the designer recently finished a course to become a fashion stylist, thus providing the complete package – she likes to “study the personality that’s in front of me over coffee and get to know a little of who they are and how they are”.

Updated: May 23, 2019 11:38 AM

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