Battling through a sea of paparazzi to enter the Majestic Hotel on the Boulevard de la Croisette in Cannes, nestled above the Mediterranean sea, the glamour of old world grandeur is immediate on entering the lobby. During the time of the film festival, models, agents, fashion designers and A to D-list celebrities are assembled in a hectic, loud and chaotic atmosphere.
I eventually find the Chanel suite on the penthouse floor, where I will wait for Kristen Stewart who is promoting her directorial debut 17-minute short film, Come Swim. The adjoined rooms are decorated as a museum of sorts to the brand. All forms of Chanel paraphernalia – clothing, shoes, purses and makeup decorate the walls.
Stewart arrives unexpectedly early and strolls into the hotel room, unencumbered by an entourage and completely unrecognisable. She’s sporting cropped, white blonde hair, tan skin, black leather shorts, leather flat sandals with lace-ups to her knees, finger-less gloves and a white sleeveless shirt.
She settles on a sofa near an old portrait of herself on the wall. It seems like a lifetime ago that the former dark-haired, pale, fragile-looking actress who starred in the Twilight franchise first came to fame and success.
“I changed my hair for a movie,” she offers. “It’s called Under Water and I play an underwater engineer. It’s a tough action movie,” she explains. Evidently, the new edgy ensemble looks good on her. “I wanted to guard against it being a hard look. I didn’t want to seem contrived.” Glancing at the old photograph behind her, she turns and says, “Actually, I find this look to be quite revealing. Oddly, I feel quite delicate; I feel more feminine which I didn’t think was going to happen. I was considering wardrobe choices to play against the hair to soften it because I don’t want to look like I am trying so hard to be tough.”
Looking at her outfit, I suppose she changed her mind about going ‘soft.’ “It immediately kind of opened me up. It’s funny that [this look] didn’t do what I thought it was going to do. I like that.”
She changes the subject. “Did you see Elle Fanning on the red carpet? She looked so beautiful the other night. She was wearing this really epic, grand dress. It was so cool that she looked so elegant and grown up, up top, and then on the back, it was just like, bam!” she laughs. “It was saying, I am still a kid.’ She can play both sides and I thought that looked amazing.”
Short films are not what Cannes is known for, but when you’re an A-list movie star; you can get almost anything screened even in this highly competitive environment. “Well, I think the festival was just being nice to me. I’m truly flabbergasted that it’s showing here. It’s very cool.”
And how is her French? “Fine-ish,” she laughs. “There is this great app called Dual-Lingo. I know a lot of words but I can’t really put them together. I really need to actually study it in order to speak it.”
Looking at her, head to toe in Chanel, her face has been used by this luxe brand to sell everything from handbags, perfume, watches and makeup. She must have learned a thing or two from Karl Lagerfeld, (the creative director of the esteemed fashion house), by now?
“I am endlessly impressed. Every single time I go to Paris to work on something, my favourite part is finishing up and then sitting down and having a meal and talking about everything with the team.” She frowns. “Look, I hope this doesn’t sound like I am saying things that people say about people that they work for, the standard, ‘Oh, we are a family.’ It really is inspirational and Karl makes decisions instantly without a committee of people.“He is endlessly, compulsively creating. He has never looked bored to me or over it. He always has more energy than anyone in the room, and to me, honestly, if you can find what you love and sustain that for that long, I aspire to that.”
Anyone who’s dyed their hair from dark to blonde knows – it takes a real commitment. She agrees. “Yeah, but I think I’m going to keep it. I’m able to do whatever I want, for this minute, anyway.”