The Insider's Guide to Cannes: Croisette Catwalk

While the Americans sport their beloved baseball caps, the Brits will be sweltering in black polo-neck jumpers. Aussies go for lurid floral shirts and you can always spot Scandinavians: they look like members of The Darkness.

The seaside has always been a good spot for a bit of social anthropology, and Cannes is no exception. Especially at this time of year, the place is a veritable crossroad of cultures.

But thanks to globalisation, it's often difficult to tell whether that creative on the Croisette is from Soho or Stockholm. To aid our readers in their socialising activities, we tried to identify the distinguishing marks of the various nations.

Let's start with les anglais. "It's not quite true to say that the Brits are always the ones propping up the bar," Jaspar Shelbourne, the European creative director at J. Walter Thompson in London, says. "In fact, they tend to divide into two camps: the ones propping up the bar, and the beautiful people staying in remote villas up in the hills."

As to what they're wearing this year, Shelbourne says creatives in London all seem to be sporting black polo-neck sweaters with the earphones of their MP3 players dangling out. "But that won't work in Cannes, because it's too hot."

Surely the most stylish people in any social setting are the Italians?

Interestingly, Maurizio Sala, the creative director at Armando Testa in Milan, believes that his compatriots drop their customary posturing at the first whiff of salt air.

"For us, Cannes is a vacation," he explains. "We usually drive there, so it isn't stressful for us, and it's a place where we can relax. You'll see everyone - whether they're 25 or 50 - wearing plain white T-shirts, faded jeans and tennis shoes." After all, what works better than a white T when you've got matching teeth and a tan?

Sala says the Brits give the best parties. "They are also the only ones left talking with us in the Martinez at four in the morning." He adds that the Spanish can always be found conversing with the South Americans "because they want to work there, and vice versa". And he queries: "Why is it so difficult to meet French people in Cannes? I meet every other nationality, but not the French."

Remi Babinet, the chief executive and creative director of BETC Euro RSCG in Paris, would disagree. "In fact, we're everywhere, so perhaps we just blend in," he says. "Cannes is still a reference for us, but over the years it's come to be seen as more of a business convention. It's no longer just about creativity."

Almost as good-looking as the Italians, but in a different way, are the Scandinavians. Ami Hasan, of Hasan & Partners in Helsinki, says they divide into various groups. "You can spot a Swedish creative director by the fact that he dresses like a rock star and is surrounded by a bunch of tall gorgeous blondes - who are mostly his office secretaries. The Finnish and the Norwegians can be found in a bar getting drunk enough to try and pick up the Swedish secretaries."

Hasan says he has never met a Danish creative director. "Do they exist?"

As for the Germans, Sebastian Turner, a joint chief executive at Scholz & Friends, claims they conform rather sadly to their national stereotype.

"You can identify them by means of a towel placed on the beach very early in the morning."

Dave Alberts, the creative director at Grey London (and an Australian), says we're missing the point. "There are no national characteristics, because ad people are a global tribe. When you go on a shoot anywhere in the world, you can immediately identify the director, the gaffer, the grip and the DOP. The creative director turns up at lunchtime, makes one very wise observation, and leaves."

Alberts believes Cannes is just a big game show in which members of various advertising sub-sets try to find one another. "It's not difficult, because they're all wearing the same uniform."

AMERICANS

Where you can find them: At a cute, "typically French", restaurant in the old town or at the cute, "typically French", Colombe d'Or.

What they are wearing: Zegna, DKNY, a touch of Banana Republic. During the day, let's face it, they never get tired of baseball caps.

Signature sunglasses: Ray Ban Aviators are back in style for the boys, but the girls add a touch of 50s glamour via Armani and Gucci.

What they say: "Are you sure this is our check?"

AUSTRALIANS

Where you can find them: Near a pool enjoying sunshine that won't kill them like it does at home.

What they are wearing: Loud T-shirts covered with crazy floral designs. For the girls, the top Aussie designers Sass & Bide.

Signature sunglasses: The Aussies know their shades, so they are probably wearing some seriously technical kit from Oakley, Bolle or Carrera.

What they say: "Jesus, mate, the jet lag's a killer."

BRAZILIANS

Where you can find them: Bopping with the Scandinavians.

What they are wearing: Brazilians are notoriously into jeans, torso-gripping T-shirts and revealing beachwear (Rosa Cha is the brand to ... er ... drop). You may spot some of them wearing home-grown brands such as Zoomp and M.Officer (from the designer Carlos Miele).

Signature sunglasses: Calvin Klein or Spy for the guys, Cartier, D&G and Etro for Brazilian babes.

What they say: "Did I tell you I bumped into Gisele at the Carlton?"

BRITS

Where you can find them: Anywhere there's free booze.

What they are wearing: Paul Smith remains popular, and Viv Westwood has made a comeback.

Signature sunglasses: Fashionistas have probably snapped up something from Alexander McQueen's new line, but the boys still prefer Oakley.

What they say: "Nah, I don't do that stuff any more. Destroys your short-term memory. What did you say your name was again?"

FRENCH

Where you can find them: Having lunch at a secluded Michelin-starred res-taurant in the countryside.

What they are wearing: APC and Agnes B.

Signature sunglasses: The men go for seriously serious Alain Mikli, but the girls prefer Tom Ford for Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche.

What they say: "The wine is better than it was at dinner."

GERMANS

Where you can find them: On the beach.

What they are wearing: If not swimwear, they can reasonably be expected to be sporting Boss, Helmut Lang or Prada.

Signature sunglasses: Lightweight titanium frames from Porsche Design.

What they say: "Do you think we should reserve seats at the awards ceremony?"

ITALIANS

Where you can find them: Having lunch in joyful groups on la Croisette (il Croisetto?).

What they are wearing: Jeans, T-shirts and sunglasses. The jeans are Versace, the T-shirts are Armani and the shades are Gucci.

Signature sunglasses: If not D&G, perhaps the increasingly fashionable Bottega Veneta.

What they say: "Where do you think we should go for dinner?"

JAPANESE

Where you can find them: Hard at work, watching ads.

What they are wearing: Lots of black: Y's by Yohji Yamamoto, Comme des Garcons, Kenzo. Look out for their Louis Vuitton luggage.

Signature sunglasses: It's the brand that really counts, so we're betting on Prada, Fendi or Gucci (or knock-offs of same).

What they say: "Did you observe the cinematography in that Nike commercial?"

SCANDINAVIANS

Where you can find them: On the dance floor.

What they are wearing: Something that makes them resemble the lead singer of The Darkness.

Signature sunglasses: Skiwear brands such as Revo and Zeiss to cut down the glare of the fjords.

What they say: "It was better ten years ago when Ronnbergs and Paradiset used to win everything."

SPANISH

Where you can find them: Chatting up the South Americans.

What they are wearing: Armand Basi, Antonio Miro. And isn't this the country that gave us Camper?

Signature sunglasses: Those ubiquitous Ray Bans, or perhaps something fun but flashy from Versace.

What they say: "So how is the weather in Buenos Aires?"

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