Celebrities get all the fun. Jetting all over the globe, mingling with fellow A-listers, lapping up attention on the red carpet night after night: how hard can it be?
A lot, as it turns out.
A little envious of the celebrity lifestyle I decided to give it a go at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival (ADFF) VIP gift lounge. It's the place where the stars all head to pick up brand new designer goodies and get pampered.
Getting red-carpet ready and being showered with pretty things may sound like a lot of fun but let me tell you, it's not all play and no work.
There are colourful, sparkly, shiny things as far as the eye can see. It's a magpie's dream.
Armed with my eco-friendly kuffiyah jute bag by Palestyle I had a sample of Kilian Hennessy's luxury fragrance half off the shelf when I was interrupted. "Hair, make-up or nails first madam?" came a polite voice from over my shoulder as I suddenly felt criminal.
Hair I thought, catching myself in a giant mirror display, showcasing a never-ending 2012 collection by Make Up Forever.
I wonder if celebs ever come here not looking perfect to begin with. I pondered as a stylist from Jet Set diplomatically asked if my greasy hair needed washing before she started.
With curls and what seemed like enough hairspray to hold even the busiest celebrity in one place for a while, it was straight over to make-up. I picked up a glow I'm not sure my skin has ever seen.
A team from N Bar performed a manicure and pedicure in record time much to the benefit of a new pair of Havaianas I hastily grabbed off the rack. Flip flops? For VIPs? The brand is fast becoming a favourite with celebs including Cameron Diaz, Gwyenth Paltrow and Hilary Duff. Any pair can be tailored on the spot to suit the needs of the gift. Celebrities can choose from Swarovski crystals, country flags and fashion pins to make theirs unique.
We're taught from birth stars don't eat, so it was a secret munch on my Chimes Ginger Chews — a healthy option courtesy of Candelite…oh who am I kidding?
"People are staring, this is working," and I gave a toss of my bouncy curls. Turns out the attention was because a Blackberry 9900 and Playbook, tub of Arganica Moroccan hair and body oil and Leila Al Marashi and Dina Al Husseini Sugar Vintage t-shirt trail was left in my wake as things spilled from my bag. So not cool.
Somehow my new-found celeb status gave me a new-found confidence. "I guess I'll be needing another bag then," I summoned, while tossing up between a glass of still or sparkling sustainable Tableau water.
Palestyle put my experience in perspective. A life in the limelight is a given for a celebrity but that draw can also achieve great things. Palestyle created a signature clutch which will be given to a yet-to-be named star. At the end of the festival an identical clutch will then be auctioned with all proceeds going to support Palestine refugee women in Jordan.
The final touch was height.
Luckily, Abu Dhabi's own Sultan Darmaki has just launched his latest shoe collection and was on hand to help. Having just gifted both Kim Kardashian and Janet Jackson, this man is qualified. They were green, soft and pretty. I didn't want to take them off. Had I had more practice in heels I think I might have made a run for it. Damn you, Havaianas.
I turned down the Vilebrequin swim shorts and a modern abaya by Rafia Helel Bin Drai's Mauzan and opted for a rare amethyst ring by Phioro jewellery, designed by Dubai-born Clare Pardoe. I should probably admit here that "opted for" actually translates to "stole" having only realised it was still on my finger hours after leaving the lounge. My very own Winona Ryder moment!
Just goes to show, a day at the gift lounge really can make you feel all-celebrity, inside and out.
What the stars have taken
- Topher Grace: "Where's all the guy stuff? I guess I'll just have to sort out my sister and mother's Christmas presents instead. Just joking." The American actor took a Blackberry Playbook, a tailor-made bracelet by Bil Arabi, created by Nadine Kanso, for his sister and some Arganica Moroccan hair and body oil for his mum.
- Evan Rachel Wood: "I can't believe this. I can really take something," she said. She also designed her own pair of custom-made Havaianas and snapped up some Kilian Hennessey fragrance. "I love the Arabic things. So great," she said.
- Aimee Mullins fell head over heels (literally) for Sultan Darmaki's shoes and ordered two pairs on the spot. Almost every celeb wanted the Palestyle clutch, which proved a popular choice.
*Unlike the stars, Kelly Crane gave everything back, except the curly hair