Last Updated: April 5, 2008By Tags:

(BY ALI NADERZAD) There is a party happening at the Jimmy Z’ lounge in Cannes during the film festival and you are not invited. Neither am I. And Sean Penn won’t be allowed in unless he bears one of the most coveted accessories during the Cannes Festival: a VIP pass. Only 400 are issued to a select group of industry professionals, producers and actors. I recently reached the Jimmy Z’ rainmaker, Albane Cleret, by phone. She gushed at hearing the sound of Penn’s name which I floated as a possible guest (he is president of the jury this year after all). “Oh, of course we’d love for him to come, he is invited obviously.” Cleret is a thirtysomething who has been running her own event-planning boutique company in Paris. She’s maintained an aura of exclusivity around the Jimmy Z’ parties and rightly so, for what would Cannes be without a little fanfare? As far as the lowly mortals pressing near the gates every night are concerned, Jimmy Z’ might as well be a mirage. Isn’t that Tarantino over there, having one his fits of hysterical laughter next to two vixens while a bemused Harvey Weinstein looks on? And over there, did you see Nick Nolte deep in conversation with George Clooney? The Jimmy Z’ bash is the last posh bastion of the VIP era–it’s event-planning on steroids. Cleret got the inspiration for the Jimmy Z’ parties after orchestrating a string of highly successful events starting with Motorola. Her reputation soon landed her contracts with the likes of Fendi, Vuitton and Piaget. And yet, the parties at Jimmy Z’ aren’t the bacchanalian affairs Peter Greenaway might have conjured. Cleret told me, “the Jimmy Z’ parties are 50% networking and 25% relaxing.” (I will leave the rest to your imagination). The venue’s themes of black and crystal haven’t changed since the first event was held there five years ago. A sponsorship from Swarovski crystals ensures the venue is overflowing with the shiny stones and Fendi provides haute-couture furniture. Frills for the guests are de rigueur, of course. The ride home is free. Given that the champagne is comped, perhaps we should feel grateful for it.