The stars make it look so easy, but a lot of work goes into preparing them for their red carpet close-ups. Ahead of this weekend's Bafta Awards, Lisa Williams puts the make-up artists and stylists behind the scenes to the test
Oh to be a celebrity for a day! Who wouldn't enjoy it? All that attention, flattery and special treatment.
Unfortunately, my acting days ended the day I was cast in a non-speaking role in the school play for the third year in a row. So, when I was invited to be styled by the professionals ahead of the Baftas, I jumped at the chance quicker than a runner-up might affect a 'didn't-they-do-well' smile for the winner.
When I turn up on the day, the Royal Suite at London's Savoy Hotel looks ready to welcome Joan Collins. There are fresh flowers in every corner, a bath bigger than a Mercedes and an army of stylists on hand to primp and preen.
Sadly, it's not Joan Collins hovering awkwardly by the door, but me. With my frizzy hair, Specsavers' finest and a limp cardigan.
The styling team are consummate professionals, however, and treat me in a manner which, I have no doubt, they use for even the most A-list of stars.
As the gents peruse the suits by Hackett (velvet tuxedos in jewel tones are all the rage this year, I hear) and watches by 88 Rue Rhone, I'm ushered into the Lancome make-up suite where Maya, a Colombian-born, Swedish-raised make-up artist (and genius) is there to meet me.
"How do you normally have your make-up done?" she asks, and I'm forced to admit that I've been doing the same make-up on myself since I was 15. Time for a change, and Maya is willing.
She applies concealer, powder and foundation with a touch as gentle as a fairy's footstep, and shows me a way to do my eyeshadow which I'm pretty sure will change my life. I start to squirm when I see the amount of both bronzer and blusher she applies to my cheeks. This can't be right.
"This will really define your cheekbones. You have lovely cheekbones," she says. I'd heard make-up artists are good people to have around when you need a confidence boost.
Then she starts talking about the men who they buff up before the big day. They're photographed as well as the women, and Maya reveals that if you see a man looking good in a photo, he's definitely wearing make-up.
"Usually it's just a bit of powder so they don't look shiny. Some want some foundation. Actors don't mind as they're used to being in the spotlight. And it means they look better in the photographs," she says.
Well, if Colin Firth can wear foundation, I can wear blusher.
Celebrity hairdresser Charles Worthington needs no encouragement. He leafs through my hair, asking if I'm naturally curly and what kind of gown I'm planning on wearing.
First he's unsure about what style to go for but when I float the idea of a beehive, he's away. "A beehive yes, I can see that. The smooth, Sixties feel is very of the moment, and with that fringe you have, it'll work really well," he enthuses.
The legendary hairdresser, who's about to set off for a pre-awards ski holiday to Aspen (he's doing my hair - of course we talk about holidays), is preparing himself to do the dos for Bafta red carpet.
"We won't know who's coming in until the day. It makes it more exciting," he says over the blast of the hairdryer.
With help from his publicist ("Names do not stick in my head, I'm terrible") he reels off some famous locks he's tended in the past. They include Gemma Arterton, Amy Adams, Emilia Fox and Claire Danes, all of whom looked drop-dead gorgeous in the styles he's crafted.
"I often choose the hair style after seeing the dress, seeing someone's face shape and getting a vibe from the person as to what they like and don't like," explains Worthington.
Hair is key at the Baftas, which Worthington thinks sets the tone for hair trends for the rest of the year. Not for the Oscars though, which is pretty dull as far as hair is concerned, in his opinion.
"They play it safe. I did the Oscars for years and they're all terrified of making a statement," he says.
After his work on February 10 is done, Worthington will be walking the red carpet at the Baftas on the arm of actress Alice Eve, whose hair he'll be doing on the day.
"It's always fun going to the ceremony and seeing faces that you know," he says.
Next for me is a short stop over at Asprey, the deluxe jeweller which lends gorgeous bling to certain stars for their red carpet close-up. When I find out one of the bejewelled handbags costs more than twice my annual salary, I make a hasty retreat into the capable hands of the Escada dressers.
This German fashion house specialises in elegant gowns you'd normally only dream of, and has dressed beauties including Dame Helen Mirren, Jessica Alba and Poppy Delevingne. The dresses on show today are a cocktail of pretty colours, from soft greys to ruby reds.
Tempted as I am to try on the sweeping brick-coloured gown which showed off Delevingne's model-like figure, I decide not to ruin the spirit of the afternoon with something so confidence-crushing.
I opt instead for a shoulderless dress in black and white stripes. It nips in at the waist and makes me look - in the best possible way - like the Queen of Hearts, especially with Maya's bright red lipstick and the sky-high hair.
I'm asked to pose for the photographer, aping the postures I've seen the likes of Kate Winslet and Anne Hathaway strike on the red carpet.
Then the dress comes off, the cardi goes back on. But the hair and make-up remain. I don't want to waste the new look on a night in front of the TV, so I ask my boyfriend to take me out for dinner instead. "And can you carry my bag too please?" I ask him, but really it's an order.
The transformation into red carpet diva is complete.
The EE British Academy Film Awards will take place on Sunday, February 10 and will be shown on BBC One