Even when I think I can’t, or when other people say I can't... I CANnes!!! And then even at times when I literally can't, like when my body says I can't - I’ll tell you more about this later - I still damn well try my absolute best and hardest to achieve something, even if it’s not how it should have been! After all, anything is better than nothing!
So, as soon as I came back from Barcelona, I had just over a week to prepare for the Cannes Film Festival. I had been invited to walk the red carpet with A-List film stars and celebrities, with the world's press there watching. It was an opportunity of a life-time and I was so excited... Anything could happen after this... After all, modelling in Cannes and Monaco last year was a truly life changing experience for me! You see my modelling really took off after that in ways I could have only ever hoped and dreamt of before then!
So then, my mission in those seven to ten days before Cannes was to get myself red carpet ready because I, of course, had to look and feel my best for this! How did I do this I hear you ask? …Well I did this by
1: Eating extra healthily! Those of you who know me, know my diet is very healthy and pure anyway, as I have gastroparesis (paralysis of the stomach) which means I have to follow a specific and special diet, but even still, I made an extra effort to eat very clean!
2: Making a huge commitment to doing lots of exercise which suits me! And by this, I mean doing lots of daily walks and lots of hula hooping, and practising yoga daily. Trust me, you won't find me at a spinning class or pumping iron…ever...that's not my style!
3: Having a spa day where I could unwind and relax in the sauna, steam room and jacuzzi, and then enjoy being pampered from top to toe with beautiful massage treatments, as well as a manicure and pedicure too! All the celebrities would be doing this before Cannes, so why shouldn't I too?! I must say that my local Roko Spa and Health Club is fabulous and treats its members like stars!
But as well as getting myself red carpet ready, there was also so much sorting, packing and networking to do as well! I really need my own PA...any applicants?! And in addition to all of this, what made things even crazier was that I had to get my red carpet designer dress altered to fit me perfectly in that time too. This wasn't an easy task as timing was tight... But luckily, I had two people who acted like the 'fairy godmother' in Cinderella at my side to make sure I got to the ball, or in my case, the red carpet! You see, Joey Bevan, a celebrity designer and stylist I've worked with before, recommended seamstress and dress alterations expert Zoe Rose to me! And even though I had to make two journeys up to Essex to see her for fittings and alterations, it was more than worth it! She was absolutely fabulous...so friendly and helpful, and her alterations were impeccable! I am so thankful to Zoe, and because of her I could walk the red carpet with 100% confidence knowing that my dress fit to perfection... So please make sure you check out and like Zoe's Facebook Page as if you're ever in need of fashion alterations, she's the one to go to... www.facebook.com/houseofrosefashion
By the time I was finally sat on the plane to Vienna, Austria, en route to Cannes, I can tell you that it was a real relief! I could now just enjoy all that was to come...or so I thought…as you'll soon see!
I arrived in Cannes the day the Film Festival started, and you could definitely sense excitement in the air. There was a definite buzz around the town! That evening I had a meeting with Tiffany McCall, a designer and fashion show organiser I had first met in Paris during Fashion Week. She was the one who had given me the opportunity to walk the red carpet, and that evening, she presented me with my Cannes Film Festival bag filled with information on the whole festival, as well as my VIP pass, which gave me full access to the Palais des Festivals where the premiers were taking place. It was so amazing to be a part of this, and I couldn't wait to find out which red carpet premier I'd be attending! Merci beaucoup Tiffany McCall!
Following this, on the Friday night, Tiffany organised dinner and drinks at the exclusive Nikki Beach venue in Cannes. This was a great opportunity to network with those in both the film and fashion industry. And so, because this event was very important, I made sure I dressed my best! I wore a chic and sexy little navy number from Jane Norman which I had not yet worn before. This dress oozed sophistication with its jewelled and diamanté cut-out waist panelling, and was the perfect choice, as it could be worn in a more formal setting or a party atmosphere. It fit me like a glove which was nice to know seeing that I bought it five years ago and had had it altered to fit me back then! As the dress was the focus of my outfit, I kept the accessories simple that night by purely having them to complement the look - diamanté shoes from Lipsy that I had bought last autumn plus diamanté earrings and a bracelet. I even tied my hair back into a ponytail to keep things more minimalistic as I had opted for strong blue eye make-up to give my look more oomph and impact. I felt a million dollars, and thoroughly enjoyed the night out...all except for when a couple of obnoxious guys saw me at the dinner table eating a white bread roll and told me that I couldn't eat that or I'd explode as models aren’t supposed to eat! For the record here, insults won't get anyone anywhere with me, and I hate it when a guy uses them as a form of chat-up line...I'm just not into that at all! Obviously I just dismissed them and the comment, but looking back on it now, it's rather ironic as you'll soon find out!
But now to the next day...Saturday 16th May...the night of my red carpet walk! I am going to write a whole 'nother blog post in the next few days or so on my red carpet look detailing everything...all the cosmetics I used to do my red carpet make-up, my choice of hairstyle, as well as talking about my all important red carpet dress and how I accessorised it! And so for now, I'm just going to sum up my experience as a whole so you have an idea about what it was like and how it felt! Plus I'll also tell you a bit about the premier I was privileged to see - The Amy Winehouse documentary.
...So then, after spending hours perfecting my make-up, having my hair styled, putting on all my accessories, and finally getting into my magnificent gold gown designed by the amazing Egyptian designer Temraza, I felt like star! I truly felt fabulous...and I was so happy that everything had come together for this one out-of-this world moment
When I was then sat in the car that was taking me to the red carpet at the Palais des Festival, I felt nervous but full of excitement. Me, Christina V, walking the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival! It felt like something out of a fairytale! I was certainly dressed for that mind you! I guess was literally the ‘Belle' of the ball that night! And even with all this nervous excitement going through my mind, I could not have anticipated how overwhelming this experience would be as I got out of the car! There were cameras flashing everywhere, and all around I could see faces looking at me since my gold gown was such a statement that had definitely caught their attention! Prior to my walk on the red carpet, Matthew McConaughey and Naomi Watts had walked, and so it was unbelievable to be following in the footsteps of A-List Hollywood stars! So, knowing this, as I then slowly and gracefully made my way along the red carpet and up the Palais stairs, turning and posing for the cameras, I tried to take everything in… I wanted to remember this moment forever! Unfortunately, this year ‘selfies’ were banned on the Cannes red carpet though, and so I wasn't able to take photos! But luckily there are some professional photos and video footage of me, as well as a sneaky snap of me at the top of the stairs, which Tiffany McCall and Algerian designer Fadila Kihel, both with whom I walked the red carpet, managed to quickly capture!
By the time I then got inside the theatre and to my seat, I was literally shaking! But after a few deep breaths, I was ready to share my experience with you all by putting up my red carpet snapshot on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram! Social media has played a huge role in my career, and so how could I not get this up asap?!?! Anyway then, after the celebrities, the film's production team and the director, Asif Kapadia, made their way inside the theatre too, the film, simply called Amy, began... It was a moving documentary about Amy Winehouse's life showcasing never-before seen footage and recordings. The film itself was just over two hours, but I was so captivated by her story, that I never once thought it was too long. It was very sad at times, but Amy's funny side definitely shone through. She came across as a true character and talent, and she had a beauty and vulnerability that was so touching. Despite what any critics may or may not have to say about this film, I truly felt moved by it, as the film makes you feel close to Amy. As a viewer you feel like you knew her and had been through her experiences, both positive and negative, with her. What happened to her was such a tragedy - she had so much more to give. I can tell you now that I truly felt honoured and privileged to be at this world premier, and I will always cherish this experience! Merci beaucoup again Tiffany McCall!
After the premier, I did an impromptu photo shoot along the promenade as I made my way to an after-party at the Carlton Hotel. There I got to network and mingle with many VIPs, including famous celebrity French twins Igor and Grichka Bogdanoff! It was such a fun night, and I didn't get to bed until gone 6am! And even then I was full of energy and still on a high! Unfortunately though, when I woke up later, I didn't feel too well. And before you ask, no I wasn't hung-over - I don't drink much at all because of my gastroparesis, and hadn't even drunk any alcohol! Because of this, I wanted to stay in bed all day, but Tiffany had invited me to the Hotel Majestic that night, and so I just about managed to get myself up and ready. I felt puffy and swollen all over though, so I dressed to try and disguise this. I teamed up a pair of black leggings with a bright blue sparkly t-shirt dress from Jane Norman and my favourite black leather jacket from Mango. To add even more sparkle and a bit of glamour, I wore my other pair of Lipsy diamanté heels in black. This look certainly had a rock chick feel about it, which was pretty apt seeing that I ended up partying with Tina Turner's daughter-in-law, Afida Turner that night! She is a big celebrity in France!
The following day, I still didn't feel my best, but just couldn't put my finger on why. I still felt puffy and swollen, but at least some puffiness had gone down from my face a bit. And so thankfully I managed to pull off a very good photo shoot along the promenade in Cannes in some very stylish dresses. I was also lucky enough to be wearing some very expensive gold and diamond jewellery from Orus Bijoux for the shoot. I felt like a celebrity model as passersby took my photo while I posed for French photographer Dtu Doe! It certainly was a fun shoot, and we got some great images. I want to tell you more about this shoot…but as it’ll be too much for now, I’ll write a separate blog post on it - and the other shoot I did a few days later - after my red carpet look post!
So after my shoot, I found out I'd been invited to a party which was also going to be attended by Paris Hilton, Leonardo DiCaprio, Uma Therman, Akon and Robbie Williams. I was so excited, and was planning over dinner what I should wear to such an exclusive event! But when I got up from the table though, I could barely stand. My right leg felt so tight and painful, and I couldn’t put any weight on it nor walk. I then looked down to see that it had ballooned up and was about 2 inches bigger than my left leg around the calf! My foot had swollen up earlier in the day, but I thought it was just the heat or something. What had happened now, on the other hand, was pretty damn scary to say the least! I was then taken into hospital, which the last place I wanted to be, especially as I was missing out on the most amazing party! I spent the night there while the doctors ran some tests. Thankfully they didn't think it was a blood clot... But they did say, that as well as the extreme visible swelling in my right foot and leg, which had got even bigger in that time, I was very dehydrated with low sodium and potassium levels, had mild hypothermia (even though it was 28 degrees outside) and had low blood pressure. They thought that all this may have been caused by an allergic reaction to wheat or gluten, and so basically bread could have been what caused me to balloon up and nearly ‘explode’ so to speak! …Now you see why looking back on it, it’s funny what those guys a few nights before had said! I do need more tests to confirm this, but if it's so, it would be quite a blow on top of my gastroparesis, especially if I also have celiac disease too. You see, although I don't normally have very much wheat in my diet at home, when I'm away, white bread, croissants and baguettes are a few of the gastroparesis friendly staple foods that I can easily get a hold of to eat. And so not being able to perhaps have these now will make things rather tricky. But whatever, I'll find a way to manage…I always do!
After being discharged from hospital, it was doctors’ orders to then stay in bed, rest and recuperate, and keep my legs raised as much possible wearing very fashionable French medical grade compression stockings! That day of bed rest certainly helped, as by the next morning, a lot of the visible swelling had gone down, and I was able to get up and head to Nice for a photo shoot. I even wore a bright yellow dress from Miss Selfridge to the shoot as I wanted to be bright and positive! As I still wasn’t on top form though, I kept things practical by styling this dress with some comfy cream wedges from Miss Selfridge, along with a cream hat and a cream leather jacket from Jane Norman - it may have been sunny outside but I had been suffering from hypothermia after all!
So now, my shoot that day was with photographer Justin Gage and his wife, make-up artist Alana Gage. I met them both at a fashion show, in honour of Joe Jackson, Michael Jackson's father, during the Cannes Film Festival last May, and ever since then we've been talking about shooting! It was therefore so incredible to see them again and work with them as they both have very creative visions. And well, my shoot with them was certainly beyond amazing! I had three looks, and for one of them I was wearing a very sexy, sleek and stylish dress designed by Kim Innu London! If you've seen any of the photos that have been released so far, I hope you love them as much as I do! And there’s more to come don’t worry!!! …As well as more to follow on this shoot too in that future blog post on my Cannes photo shoots!
Unfortunately though, after this shoot, that was more or less the end of my Cannes Film Festival experience this year because my health then deteriorated further. It was more than disappointing to miss out on modelling in fashion shows, attending exclusive events and parties, and possibly even having another chance to walk the red carpet. I even missed out on watching the Monaco Grand Prix with Joe Jackson from a yacht again this year, and instead was confined to a bed with my feet up, watching the race on my iPad. I can't tell you how horrible I felt and how horrible it felt to have put so much into being in Cannes and then not being able to fulfil everything like I had hoped to and wanted to because of suffering these serious health complications... It truly sucked!
But like I said at the start of this blog, "even at times when I literally can't...I still damn well try my absolute best and hardest to achieve something", and that I did. I networked from my bed, making some great contacts! And some great news is that I’ve already been asked to walk the red carpet again next year! Other amazing opportunities are also now presenting themselves following my red carpet walk, and so I am so thankful that all was not lost in spite of what happened to me. I tell you, I'm going to make up for this big time as soon as I'm back to full health… And at least now that I’m back at home in London, hopefully the doctors here will get to the bottom of things quite soon. All I ask is no more blood tests though! I’m feeling like a bruised pin cushion as they have so much difficulty taking blood from me! It’s easier to take blood from a stone than from my arm apparently!!! But anyway, like I said, I’m now just focusing my attention on all the exciting things that are coming my way soon…which of course means I’ve also gotta make sure that Cannes next year will be bigger and better than ever for me... I’m even planning my red carpet dress already! Ooo I wonder which designer I’ll be wearing…?!?!
Christina V xxx