Cannes Diary: My Quest to Party With Cara Delevingne

by Mara Reinstein

Spoiler: This story ends tragically.

The problem is that partying at the Cannes Film Festival is a professional sport that requires Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours of diligent practice. I’m at hour 260, tops. I also don’t have the luxury of traveling with a reporter this year — the one who, in 2016, smuggled the two of us into the ultra-exclusive Hotel du Cap for a private cocktail party with George Clooney and Julia Roberts by convincing the staff we worked for Julia’s stylist. I’m a writer, dammit! (One who’s nerdy enough to quote Star Trek, mind you.)

So perhaps you’re all familiar with the French Riviera? This is the backdrop for all the big-time parties. The beaches are covered by tents and rented out seemingly by the inch.

During the day, the tents sit idly and innocently in their virgin white.

By night, this is ground zero for party-hopping. Stop at Nikki Beach for a sec. If the scene isn’t up to par, just walk on over to Baoli Beach. It’s like perusing from Michael Kors to J-Crew at a mall. The key difference: You need to be invited by a publicist and put on a typed list to enter. Men in tuxedos and earpieces and clipboards stand at the top of the steps, and their main job is to utter a single mantra: “We’re at capacity. Wait here.”

On May 18, I got invited to the Magnum x Moschino party. I was told there would be free ice cream. Sold! Also, Cara Delevingne was promoted as the guest of honor and co-honor. I’ve never met Cara and, judging from her grumpy press tours, she has zero interest in meeting me. But the British actress/model/whatever has a better resting bitching face than Victoria Beckham and a last name that’s wildly difficult to spell. She emerged from Suicide Squad unscathed. And despite her working relationship with Magnum, I’m not convinced she’s ever had dairy in her life. This party had the making to be epic. Semi-epic. Moderately epic.

Though I wore my trusty Prada dress and leather heels (courtesy of the great tax refund of 2015), I was woefully out of my element. Simply put, Madonna notwithstanding, a native Detroiter is no match for gaunt European Glamazons in gold lame. Like this woman:

They all whizzed past me, leaving behind the perfumed aroma of drama in their wakes. I couldn’t recognize any of them. But judging by the gawking stares that followed them, I was convinced they were the Bella Hadids of Southern Europe.

Seriously. Do any of these women look familiar? Anyone? They were so in-demand that they rushed the red carpet in front of salivating paparazzi for a step-and-wave!

But still, no Cara. The reserved tables sat empty and sad. Ugh. Of course she was too important to arrive within an hour of the start time.

Maybe holding (and downing) a glass of champagne would help me look like I belonged here.

The super-fancy ice cream bar was more effective. You think fresh mango at Yogurtland is upscale? Here, my toppings included “silver flakes” “disco balls” and “black charcoal.” By the time I finished loading up my bar, I didn’t know whether to eat it or wear it as jewelry. (**Update: I didn’t take a photo of it because I double-fisted with champagne. I realize this is not the way to gain Instagram followers.)

With still no Cara in sight, I started talking to a white-haired Wisconsin man in town to buy medical documentary films. This was his 27th trip to Cannes, he noted. Nice enough, but the conversation went awry as soon as he began a sentence, “Here’s why I don’t feel sorry for the women who sued Roger Ailes….”

After 90 minutes, I got antsy and started losing my will to party with Cara. I could only fake-smile and nod along to a Lorde song for so long until my imposter status became all-too-noticeable. I found a female staffer and pounced:

Me: “Is Cara here?”

Staffer: No.”

Me: “Is she on her way?”

Staffer: “I’m not sure.”

Me: “So who are all these women? Are they talent?”

Staffer: “They’re nobody.”

Me: “Really?

Staffer: “Nobody.”

That was my cue to leave. I know I should have stayed until the bewitching hour — in fact, soon after I walked into my hotel room, the publicist emailed and informed me that Miss Delevingne had arrived.

By then, I was taking off my red lipstick using blunt force. I had to wake up at 7:15 AM for a drama starring Tilda Swinton. And I knew Tilda wouldn’t be caught dead partying with model-wannabes all night under a tent and gorging on silver flakes. Yup, I made the right call. Until tonight, that is….

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