One of the best reasons to attend Sundance on opening weekend and why most of the celebrities do, is for the fabulous gifting suites. The main attraction is clearly still film, not to mention the parties, musical performances and skiing overlooking snow capped mountains, filled with evergreens and crisp, clean air. What makes Park City the perfect destination and a pure film festival, is that it is rather difficult and expensive to get to.
My first stop was the TR Gifting Suites. Little did I know that old friend from New York, Michael Heller was the brainchild behind his lounge. For the Sixth consecutive year, Talent Resources came to Park City to host their largest activation ever, this time at the Blue Iguana Lounge, right across from the infamous Egyptian Theater. Once inside, guests could experience a fully-equipped salon and barbershop by Dove. Whether you wanted a blowout, men’s trim, or just a wash, stylists were at your beck and call.
Sean Jean supplied cozy snow jackets and sweaters to keep VIP’s comfortable, along with sunglasses. In addition, CAT Footwear outfitted top influencers with high-quality and stylish boots, now sold in 150 countries worldwide. Another fun coincidence, was bumping into good friend Karen Davis-Brennan who reps the brand, Eppa Organic Sangria who partnered with healthy and delicious LUVO food (Jennifer Garner and Derek Jeter are Ambassadors), that paired nicely together. Diddy’s network, Revolt TV, was on site capturing all the action, including a special performance by Skylar Grey.
Some of the best-kept secrets are underground and it was definitely worth making an appointment with Koolaburra. The Santa Barbara sheepskin boot company handed out top winter styles to some of the most talented stars of the festival. Devoted Koolaburra "Kult" member, Selena Gomez grabbed a new pair of Haley Ankle II boots in Tawny Port just before ducking out of the building through a back entrance to avoid mobs of fans waiting out front.
Katie Couric made a beeline for Koolaburra's cozy corner, selecting the Sasha II boots before her Huffington Post interview. Keeping with her tomboy chic look of jeans, sweater, and short hair, Shailene Woodley completed her outfit with a new pair of comfy Snowjogs in Monk Brown. Stunning DJ duo Nervo were stoked to have a new pair of plush Koolaburra boots to wear after their two hour set. On the way out, I picked up a Sunrider “Survival Kit” which included an abundance of supplements, vitamins, teas, oils, sunscreen and lotions that definitely helped me revive post-festival.
Then it was off to “Its So Miami” that had a killer people-watching scene, with a Mojito Bar by Patron and yummy hot coffee beverages provided by Tim Horton’s. Global jeweler Satya was in the suite, gifting the most gorgeous bracelets and cuffs. Her company has donated over $1 million to date, benefiting children’s organizations all over the world. Adjacent was the “Eddie Bauer Adventure” outfitting celebrities in serious gear, complete with a rock climbing wall inside.
Eco Hideaway, was right in middle of everything on Main Street, complete with a 3-day hospitality lounge, live music stage and wrap party for celebrities. Beneficial for the brands participating, Debbie Durkin held a consumer Retail Pop-Up, in which participating merchants could sell their products, following the 3-days of gifting.
Brands participating included, Marisa Kenson Collection—Youngevity MK Collaborative, SmartScarf by FurFrenzy; in from Dallas, Texas - Deborah Gaspar Jewelry; OC Hair & Makeup; The Spa at Stein Eriksen Lodge; "glamping" vacations by Under Canvas; Minky Couture designer blankets, which my dog Tess adores. A daily hot and cold organic buffet from Whole Foods Market Park City - totally smart, along with a Tito’s Handmade Vodka Gluten-Free Bloody Mary bar that Elijah Wood really enjoyed.
Celebrities and filmmakers that attended included Elisabeth Moss, Krysten Ritter, Jason Schwartzman, Elle Fanning, Gilles Marini, Richard Schiff, Maitland Ward, Patricia Arquette, Lane Garrison, Jason Ritter, Tara Holt, Jeff Schroeder and more. Over 30 bands performed during the 3 days.
Yet another year, Cloud 21 organized a fabulous gifting suite and lounge that served as a location for various interviews and social happenings – the Social Film Loft, where stars such as Michael C. Hall (Dexter), Bill Hader, Joe Manganiello, Leah Thompson and Lindsay Lohan were interviewed and made appearances.
Brands that participated included: House of Minerva, Skullcandy, Uber, Edith's Inc., Mine Label, Cape Cod Leather, Poket Roket Apparel - Australia, Belle Journee Handmade Soaps, Udderly Smooth Skincare, Butchers Bunches Preservatives, Native Shoes, Stone + Cloth Backpacks, Nooka, Electric Picks Jewelry, Bling20, People Water, Honest Tea and Aushentoshen Single Malt.
Films that held interviews there included the cast from "Cooties": Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson and Jack McBrayer. Live footage from KTLA: http://ktla.com/2014/01/21/sam-talks-cooties-film-with-cast/. Kidnapped for Christ: Tom DeSanto, Lance Bass and Michael Manning. As well as "Red vs. Dead": Martin Starr, Ingrid Hass and Jocelyn DeBoer. Live footage: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QLUl2ex8FE
Gotham Chandna, who partnered with publicist Hilda Somarriba to run the Social Film Loft, is one of the best celebrity wranglers and social media guys’ out there.
Power Hollywood publicist and former CAA agent, Kari Feinstein also held a “Style Lounge” that included hats and sweaters from AMI Clubwear, Palace Resorts, Khombu boots, Compassion bracelets, BlingSting, DJI among other elite brands. Celebrities who visited included Zach Braff, Kendra Wilkinson, Emile Hirsch, Cristina Hendricks and other A-listers.
As you can see it is not always luxury products that find their way into the hands of celebrities, but also everyday brands that are practical and can be worn right on the spot the entire 10-days of the festival, weather appropriate. Happy 30th Sundance Robert Redford – you should have been nominated for the Academy – until next year.