CANNES WATCH: Designers set up shop

CANNES, France (AP) — Cannes is about so much more than film: It's also the world's premier fashion festival.

A-list actresses like Nicole Kidman and Marion Cotillard work 12 days-worth of red carpet dressed to the nines in the latest designer creations. Luxury houses aren't stupid — they know all too well the brand image benefits of a Cannes presence.

And now, luxury houses have started to colonize top hotels on the Croisette with pop-up stands. The Martinez is currently home to dozens of brands such as Pucci, Armani, Valentino and Bulgari — all installed in real suites only for the length of the festival.

They're used to either to sell their wares to the rich visiting the festival, by appointment only, or fit dresses for celebrities like Sharon Stone, who hit the red carpet down the street. Avakian is a Geneva-based luxury jeweler that's just caught on to the trend.

"Cannes is one of the most important events throughout the year on the calendar," said Haig Avakian, Avakian's owner. He said a stand here translates into prestige, and ultimately lots more money. "This is our second year at the Carlton (hotel). It's so important to be here, especially as fashion houses are getting more aggressive," he added.

— By Thomas Adamson,

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