Festival de Cannes 2021: Dubai beauty mogul and socialite shares experience
Reem Abou Samra tells us what an ideal day in her life looked like at the festival.
Taking place between July 6 to July 17, the Festival de Cannes 2021 was an instant hit with many stars, giving us new celebrity moments to cherish. While the four members of The French Dispatch team — director Wes Anderson and actors Timothee Chalamet, Tilda Swinton and Bill Murray — triggered a meme-fest (because of their mismatched costumes at the premiere), it was Sharon Stone who stole the show on the festival’s red carpet in an ice blue tulle gown adorned with colourful flowers.
The glamorous international event was also home to famous faces from the Middle East. Hala Alasmari, founder and creative designer of Ofa Jewellery, Karen Wazen, Dubai-based fashion entrepreneur and influencer, and Reem Abou Samra, socialite, entrepreneur and founder of LaLoge Beauty Lounge in Dubai, were a few favourites who walked the iconic red carpet at Cannes.
It is not the first time Syrian-born entrepreneur Reem has graced the red carpet at the film festival. As the founder of a luxury beauty lounge in Dubai, Reem is often a client for famous international brands. We got in touch with Reem who tells us about her journey at Cannes and what an ideal day in her life looked like during Festival de Cannes 2021.
Tell us what took you to Cannes.
I really love everything about Festival de Cannes and I have attended many times. I am very lucky that I am invited by some of my favourite brands because I am a client. I attended (this time) as a guest of the fine jewellery brand, Chopard. I was also a guest of the fashion brand Gucci.
With Covid restrictions in place, how did you feel walking the red carpet?
Actually, on the red carpet, everything was the same — it all felt normal. The only difference is that we had to wear our masks after being photographed. Even during the cinema screenings, we kept our masks on. It was not a problem at all, and as everyone was vaccinated, it all felt very safe.
What was an ideal day in your life during the Festival de Cannes?
I loved the full experience. I liked to have a lie-in in the mornings as there were great dinners and entertainment in the evening that could go on until late. Once I woke up and did some meditation, I would head for breakfast in my hotel. I was staying at Hotel Martinez. I also loved to have breakfast at Fouquet’s at the Majestic Hotel. There was a very nice vibe and the food was amazing.
I always go shopping while I am in Cannes as the boutiques bring in some exclusive pieces especially for the occasion. My favourites are Gucci, Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana and Hermes, but there are some very nice French boutiques with unique designers also.
In the afternoon we would go to the amazing Chopard Lounge at Hotel Martinez where we relaxed over lunch and browsed their fine jewellery collections. I had my eye on a few things. The whole setting was incredible, you could meet celebrities and also get your hair and makeup done. I had my glam team that helped me to prepare for the red carpet.
The red carpet was amazing. I love being in front of the cameras. I get inspired by everything. Everyone is very unique with their fashion and I love how they make such efforts. The only disappointing thing for me is that some people only come for the red carpet and don’t really care about the films. That is what the festival is all about.
After the screenings, we would go straight to dinner. The brands host amazing dinners with very exciting entertainment. The parties are very lively and you see many famous faces.
I would try not to stay up too late as every day was packed with amazing things to do and I loved to do it all. I had to pace myself!
As the founder of a beauty salon, what tips and tricks do you have to get red carpet-ready?
To prepare for the red carpet, I recommend doing a facial two days earlier to refresh the skin and to keep the complexion glowing. I use a special combination of products that are used at my salons. I also make sure that my hair is in perfect condition with some deep conditioning hair treatments to add shine. It goes without saying that I get my hair coloured regularly, but to make sure the colour is amazing for big events, I have my stylist apply a toner to refresh the colour as the sun and swimming-pool water can affect the colour, especially when it comes to blonde hair. The toner also gives an extra sleek shine boost, so I do this one or two days before a red carpet event.
When it comes to makeup, you need to have a combination of great products and a skilled makeup artist to ensure that your look is not too heavy, but at the same time, the foundation must give flawless coverage. The cameras always make your makeup look less than it is, which is why you need to maintain a balance between ‘dramatic’ for the cameras and not ‘overdone’ for real life.
What are the five essential products you require to get red carpet-ready?
I usually have a lot of treatments done just before I travel, but as I am away for two months travelling across Europe, I have my glam team to help with hair and makeup for VIP events. I find that it is most important to keep my skin hydrated while I am away, so at night I remove my makeup with Wishful Clean Genie, which is really good for removing heavy makeup.
Next, I use La Prairie Skin Caviar Luxe Eye Cream which makes my eyes look good and Guerlain Abeille Royal Night Cream to give extra moisture to my skin as I sleep. As lipstick can be drying, I wear Charlotte Tilbury Lip Balm. I keep my hands moisturized with L’occitane hand cream — the sanitizers can be very drying and I use them a lot while I am travelling.
Who is your go-to designer for such events?
Whenever I travel, I always have a selection of gowns. I am not particular about the designer, I am open to anything as long as I love the design. Last year I chose Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad, this year I went with Valentino and Gucci. Sometimes I opt for Chanel. The red Valentino dress I chose for this year was very nice; you need to be comfortable to feel and look good. I paired it with an evening bag from the latest Dior collection.
What is your take on events such as Festival de Cannes taking place during Covid?
The world needs to start operating again. Of course, precautions must be taken and safety is of the utmost importance, but Covid might be here for a while and we need to learn how to adapt and live with it. We need to adapt, work on our immune system and look at the positives in every scenario. We have learned that life is short and we must live our lives in the best way possible while being responsible. The important thing is not to be afraid, we need to be educated about every situation, then think and act smartly.
What advice would you have for others during these trying times?
Take time for yourself to support your health and wellness. Panic causes anxiety and that creates illness. Practice meditation, yoga and try not to worry about what you cannot change.
Surround yourself with positivity and you will have a stronger outlook. If you can’t spend time with family in person, make time to speak with them regularly over video calls. Every interaction is precious and creates memories.
Talking about Covid, how did it affect your life in Dubai?
Of course, business-wise it had a big impact as many businesses including mine had to close for long periods of time and it was a waiting game to listen for further instructions. At first, it was a shock, but you focus on the positives and I was grateful for more time with my family.
Also, there was more time to spend on my health and wellbeing. When things are out of your control, you cannot panic as it will cause more bad health. I felt very safe in Dubai and the government did a very good job keeping everyone protected.
Luckily due to the fast vaccination rollout, we resumed life as semi-normal sooner than other countries. Life has to go on, we cannot stop life more than this. Staying at home scared will not help anyone.
Do you think Dubai can be a destination for events like Festival de Cannes?
Dubai is the best destination for this kind of event. I run an events company where we put on very big and extravagant events, as well as very exclusive intimate events, and I know there is talent in Dubai to create amazing things. Everyone in Dubai loves a red carpet event and we should celebrate the film industry more.