Award-winning influencer Mary Leest reveals this year’s Cannes Film Festival beauty and fashion trends

Mary Leest is a global influencer with more than 1.1m followers on Instagram. She has been named one of the most influential people in fashion by international editions of Glamour and Harper’s Bazaar, and she has appeared on a Times Square billboard and a Hudson Street NYC billboard for Calvin Klein. She’s also worked with the brands Carolina Herrera, Bulgari, Fendi, Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, Dolce & Gabbana Beauty and Swarovski and is represented by CAA. Mary is appearing at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, so we asked her about her behind-the-scenes fashion and beauty secrets…

Your skin looks beautiful – how do you look after it? 

“I always say if you are lucky enough to be born with good teeth and skin, you are already a millionaire! Unfortunately, I must make a huge commitment to keeping my skin healthy. I didn’t get lucky with my skin at all, and I struggle with acne and rosacea. I don’t rely solely on skincare; I believe in doctors, aestheticians and science. I do facials every three weeks and get microneedling with Azalia serum every month or so to keep my rosacea in remission. I also get LPA and BBL laser treatments regularly to stimulate the production of collagen and even out my skin tone. As for skincare, I don’t use products with any fragrance, and before I put anything on my face, I send the ingredient list to my dermatologist.” 

What are your beauty secrets for the best red carpet-photos? 

“Sleeping 10 hours a night and a good make-up artist! We all can look beautiful; you have to figure out what works for your face. I’ve had several red carpet photos where I didn’t think I looked my best because my make-up didn’t compliment my strong features. I also use a NuFace device, which has a lifting effect. For make-up, I love the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette – it does some amazing trick with light and is flattering in photos.” 

How do influencers collaborate with brands at the Cannes Film Festival? 

“There are a few ways. You could be invited by an official partner of the Cannes Film Festival, such as Campari, Chopard or L’Oréal. They have access to red-carpet premieres. Sometimes, this is on an exchange basis – you get PR, they get exposure of their brand – and sometimes, it’s paid. Another way is that your publicist gets you access to the red carpet, or you can hustle to do it yourself, and then you choose what to wear and who to promote if you want to promote anything! I do like to work with high-end jewellery, but I prefer to choose my dresses myself. There is so much going on around the Cannes Film Festival! So many brands hold events on the French Riviera because all the A-listers are in town.”

Do you have a beauty and fashion team, or do you do it yourself?

“I have a Cinderella story for this one. When I got invited to my first red carpet in Cannes, I did it all alone. I was sewing my Dior dress the night before the premiere because it was slightly big on me. I also planned to do my hair and make-up myself. But then my friend came to the rescue. I didn’t know how things were done; I was 19 and innocently thought everyone was just that naturally beautiful! But then you realize that all these gorgeous people have professionals to help them. It truly takes a village. Glamming up could take three to four hours. Those five minutes on the red carpet are very stressful, and so many things have to go right! Now, I tend to trust my team to help me because each of them is better than me and an expert in their own craft.” 

What are the fashion trends for Cannes this year, and what is out of style? 

“Cannes is all about couture. Trends don’t always apply to couture; each piece is uniquely made, and it’s an art of its own. You just have to feel confident in what you are wearing – then the magic will happen. Bigger dresses with longer trains tend to draw more attention, especially if you are not an A-lister, but not a lot of them are tasteful, in my opinion. When I prepare my looks, I always look back in time. My inspiration is classic Hollywood; I love how elegant it was.

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