By Alexandria Sage
CANNES (Reuters) - Walking the red carpet of the world's most famous film showcase is a test of nerves for celebrities, not helped by wind, rain and the chaos of hundreds of photographers shouting their names.
From choosing the perfect dress and hairdo, to trying not to trip on the famous red steps, the pressure is on for movie stars and glitterati at the 12-day Cannes film festival on the swanky French Riviera which wraps up on May 26.
"It's always scary and I'm always intimidated by these things," actress Carey Mulligan told Reuters TV after her entrance in the pouring rain at the festival's premiere of Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby" in a pale pink Dior gown.
"There's always a lot of pressure. Girls have lots of pressure. But I felt great and comfortable. Apart from the rain it was all pretty smooth," she said.
An actress who can smile, wave to the cameras and sign autographs while battling wet feet, goosebumps and mussed hairdos deserves an acting award.
"I'm going to blow away! I feel like Mary Poppins!" joked jury member Nicole Kidman, wearing a spring-like floral gown, also by Dior, on opening night.
In the latest celebrity wardrobe malfunction, "Desperate Housewives" star Eva Longoria inadvertently exposed herself as she hiked up her gown to avoid red carpet puddles on Saturday.
The foul weather has meant local stores have done brisk sales of jackets, sweaters, closed-toe shoes and umbrellas.
Some stars still managed to stay immaculately groomed. French actress Marion Cotillard arrived at Monday's premiere of "Blood Ties" by director Guillaume Canet and co-starring Clive Owen with a high beehive hairdo that would have been impossible without a girl's best friend - hairspray.
Even less-glamorous dealmakers who head to the festival to buy and sell new films have been affected by the weather.
"If this Cannes market turns out to be slower than usual, I will blame it entirely on wet socks," tweeted Magnolia Pictures executive Peter Van Steemburg.
With all eyes in the entertainment industry on Cannes, making a memorable red carpet entrance is a must for stars, and brands from Swarovski to L'Oreal also seek to benefit.
"Now the movies, and especially the red carpet, are becoming the new fashion catwalks," said Swarovski's public relations director Francois Ortarix. "As a brand, we had to be here also."
Stars managed to keep the fashion stakes high, with fashionistas like China's Fan Bingbing showing off new outfits at a series of parties.
Dior, with its full skirts and elegant appeal, appeared to be the favorite of the fashion set this year as new designer Raf Simons has made wooing the A-listers a priority.
Cotillard and actress Jessica Biel attended Dior's cruise collection fashion show in Monaco on Saturday night. It was marked by bold colors and pointy-toed shoes.
But some opted for Chanel, such as "Harry Potter" actress Emma Watson who chose a pink and black sequined dual-tone dress for the premiere of Sofia Coppola's "The Bling Ring". Model and actress Milla Jovovich chose a black and white floral sequined Chanel in one of the few bold prints to hit the red carpet.
An even more striking choice was made by "Baywatch" actor David Hasselhoff, in town to promote his new movie "Killing Hasselhoff", who wore a fuchsia pink shirt under his tuxedo.
"Red carpet, pink shirt ... I know, sorry," he quipped.
(Additional reporting by Mike Davidson and Rollo Ross; Editing by Pravin Char)