DUBAI: Saudi model Amira Al-Zuhair and fashion blogger Eleen Suliman turned heads at the Cannes Film Festival with their jaw-dropping gowns, and this week Arab News chatted with the stars to learn more about their behind-the-scenes preparations and what they think of Saudi Arabia’s participation at the 76th edition of the prestigious festival.
“It is great to see Saudi at the forefront of (the) international stage and in the global scene, and to see our involvement in the art and entertainment industries worldwide,” Al-Zuhair, who was born in Paris to a French mother and Saudi father, told Arab News. “It is something I am really proud of, proud to represent and proud to be a part of as a Saudi woman.”
The model, who is signed with Elite Model Management, believes the future is bright for the Kingdom. “There is a very promising and exciting future for Saudi Arabia and Saudi creatives and talents.”
“I really appreciate and admire everything that Saudi Arabia is doing to promote culture and its investment in art and culture. I think it’s great that we are getting involved in the global scene and showing to everyone what Saudi is all about and the rituals and culture of our great country,” she added.
Suliman said: “I was very proud that my country presented something as big in Cannes,” referring to the festival’s opening film “Jeanne du Barry” by Johnny Depp which was backed by Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea International Film Festival.
“It was special and unique. I am very happy and excited about the growth happening in Saudi Arabia. We are taking big steps,” she said.
For the red carpet, Al-Zuhair had “a go big or go home” mindset when preparing for her look, and she most certainly went big.
The catwalk star, who got ready at Hotel Martinez in Cannes, wore a corset style off-the-shoulder gown dress with puffy skirt that took around two months to prepare. She wore Cartier jewelry to the event and had her makeup done by Chanel Beauty.
“We custom-designed the dress together. We chose the design, the fabrics, the color,” she told Arab News. “It was really exciting to work with the designer and be part of the dress-making process from the start and to have a hand in choosing the model, the design, the style. I really enjoyed collaborating with Rami Kadi for this dress.”
“It was nice to have a custom-designed dress because it really represents you and you get to choose every details,” Al-Zuhair added.
Her first Cannes red carpet was an unforgettable experience, she said. “It was really fun to be able to experience the Cannes Film Festival for the first time. It was such a pleasure to be able to go to the opening ceremony,” she recalled.
Al-Zuhair said she enjoyed being part of the design process and revealed it is something she would consider doing in the future. “Being someone who is in fashion and in the industry, I think designs dresses, or co-designing a capsule collection or something, I think it could be something I could tap into,” she said.
Suliman partnered with L’Oreal Paris for her red-carpet participation. Unlike Al-Zuhair, Suliman had her dress ready five days before the event. She opted for a light green dress with voluminous sleeves and a thigh-high slit by Beirut-based label Sara Mrad.
“It was very hard because people in Cannes book their dresses ahead of time,” she said. “I was looking for a dress that was suitable for my age, fresh, colorful and unique, not something loose and voluminous. The best option was Sara Mrad’s gown.”