Most people only experience the Cannes Film Festival via paparazzi pictures and celebrity social media updates, but Soko has been attending since her teens. The singer, actor, and muse to designers like Gucci’s Alessandro Michele has been front and center at the festival since her breakthrough performance in 2009’s À l’origine and has repeatedly attended for business and pleasure in the years since. This year the star popped in to promote A Good Man, director Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar’s forthcoming drama but her trip wasn’t all work and no play. Traveling with her son Indigo, she found time for catching up with old friends, mornings at the beach, and taking in the work of her peers. Below Soko shares how she made her trip work for her and why returning to the festival continues to be meaningful.
Consider your trip’s purpose before you enter the planning phases.
“There are a lot of people who go to Cannes to do the red carpet, but they don’t have anything to promote. They’re there for fun and don’t get as much attention, but when you’re at the festival to promote a project or present an award, you will be in the spotlight, and it helps to be prepared.
My first time at the festival professionally was with the film Àl’origine in 2009. It was my first film in the official competition, and I had no idea how to dress or play the game. I bought a vintage dress, did my hair and makeup, and I wound up looking like a Christmas tree. If there were actual fashion police, I would have been arrested, and I’d still be in jail now.
It’s worth it to invest in having your hair and makeup done, getting a gorgeous designer dress that makes you feel fantastic. If you’re going to do [the red carpet], you should do it right. This year, when I went to the fitting in Los Angeles I saw my dress on the rack and instantly knew it was the one. I walked in and just said, ‘this feels right.’”
Pack light, unless you’re bringing vegan snacks.
“My son Indigo and I both eat vegan, so when I’m packing for the trip, so much of what I bring is food. For Cannes, I brought gluten-free cereals, these yummy organic pasta sauces, oat milk, and other easy kid stuff that is readily available in Los Angeles but hard to find in France. At least half of my suitcase is just snacks, baby toys, and other little things that he loves.
By the time I headed to Cannes, we had been on the road traveling for nearly five weeks, so it would have been impossible to carry everything I needed with me from place to place. Since I’m traveling with a two-and-a-half-year-old, I can’t be lugging around looks to and from the airport or a showroom. Instead, I ask the brands that I’m working with to ship directly to the hotel. Shipping is lovely because you can also do returns that way as well. When you’re working with Gucci and Miu Miu, the process is seamless, but it is excellent for anything you can’t put in your suitcase.
Remember the importance of self-care, even when your schedule is packed.
“When you’re working, you have almost no free time. You land, then you go from the car to the hotel, hair and makeup, meetings, and then the red carpet, which can sound exciting but is intense. It felt like we only had half a second each day to ourselves in Cannes, but I used that time to go for a swim. I went down with our film crew, Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar, the director of A Good Man, and Noémie Merlant, who was also in the film. Afterward, we had a cute morning hang in front of the Martinez, just talking and catching up.
The simple things are the most important; any time I get to connect with the ocean and be in nature is meaningful. Those are the things that make me feel good about myself, especially during times that can be stressful. I consider any day I get to make time for self-care a success, so I did my little floating meditation in the ocean and was able to relax for a few moments.”
Be prepared to run into old friends.
“While I was at the festival, my parents were watching Indigo. So for three days, I revisited my life pre-motherhood. This was the first time I’ve really gone anywhere in a while; all I’ve been doing lately has been running around in sweatpants and having playdates, so returning to Cannes reminded me of my old routine. I thought, ‘oh oh wow, this is what my life used to be like; these are things I used to do all the time.’ So it was a bit of a refresher. I was able to see so many people that I know and reconnect. Then I got lucky because Carla Bruni invited me to her house, which was gorgeous, of course. Spending time there allowed me to unwind and reset before I made the trip home.
And to get emotional.
“Seeing your film played at Cannes is like nothing else. The room itself is huge, it seats nearly a thousand people, and it’s wild because the people clap at the end, cheer, and give standing ovations. All eyes are on you, with all the cameras capturing your reactions and displaying them on this giant screen. It’s incredibly emotional because you’re surrounded by people, so many more than at a standard premiere, and you see all their reactions at once.
I try to see at least one film per day. This year, there were so many different stories that I wanted to experience: the documentary about Jane Birkin; my friend Noemie’s directorial debut, Mi Iubita Mon Amor; the new Julia Ducournau film, so many. That room is truly the best place in the world. The one thing I haven’t don’t yet but would love to do is direct a film and present it at Cannes. I will do that at some point in my career.