Where Débutantes, their cavaliers, Haute Couture and Couture houses unite for a magical evening in Paris.
Saturday, November 30, 2013
The most prestigious international debutante ball is held on Thanksgiving weekend. The Debs hail from the world’s most famous families. ‘Le Bal‘ has attracted the daughters of European aristocracy to captains of industry to Hollywood A-listers to world leaders from thirteen countries. Their ages range from 16 to 21 years old and are accompanied by their chosen cavaliers.
In 1992, PR maven Ophelia Renouard introduced dressing the debutantes in the designs of Paris’ haute couture houses and almost all of the leading design houses have participated since then.
According to website:
Once upon a time, young ladies from aristocratic families of the U.K. would wait eagerly for their eighteenth birthday. It was then that they would be presented to H.M. the Queen. Next, the season’s balls would begin. These young ladies were referred to as “débutantes”. This British tradition would go on to influence balls all across Europe.
In France, in 1957, the Couture House Jean Patou revived the tradition. It became an annual event, held on alternate years at the Opera in Paris and in Versailles. Mr. Jacques Chazot presented the débutantes wearing tiaras, white gowns and white gloves. The political events of May 1968 saw the end of débutante balls in France.
In 1992, Ophélie Renouard invented a modern version called “le Bal”, transformed in order to suit the modern world. Each year, she brings together twenty-five vibrant young girls from famous families and the haute couture and couture houses make each one of them a representative of their fashion, by dressing them for the event.
Renouard reinvented the presentation as a glittering fundraiser with the emphasis on philanthropy and contact building rather than finding a husband.
le Bal took a hiatus in 2010 due to it’s regular venue, the Hotel de Crillon, being up for sale. The event returned in 2011 and 2012 to the Crillon, with the approval of the hotel’s new owner, Saudi Prince Mitab ben Abdallah Ben abd Al-Aziz al Saoud. In March 31, 2013, the Hôtel de Crillon is closing for 2 years.
Donations are made direct by the debutantes’ families to the Children of Asia.
A Few of the 2013 Debutantes:
Akshita Bhanjdeo (India)
Romy David (US)
Rebecca Eu (China)
Lauren Marbe (UK)
Kyra Kennedy (US)
Francesca Packer Barham (Australia)
Lady Amelia Windsor (UK)
Monica Urquijo Zobel (Philippines)
Kyra Kennedy, 18-year-old, great niece of late President John F. Kennedy and daughter of Robert Kennedy Jr., was fitted on Wednesday at Dior.
The Weekend of le Bal
Friday night before the ball, there is a waltz rehearsal for the Debs, their families and their cavaliers. The Debs spend several hours on the Saturday of the Ball itself getting dressed and perfecting their look with hair and makeup artists. They also pose for photos with select international press.
The Night of le Ball
Dinner is served to the families, the press and other invitees, while they await the entrance of the Debs. The young women are then presented in a défilé (fashion parade) on the arms of their cavaliers, introduced by the master of ceremonies, French media personality Stéphane Bern. The ball itself is opened by the Debs dancing with their fathers, and then the music shifts to more modern fare and general dancing begins.
About Enfants d’Asie (Children of Asia):
The purpose of le Bal is to raise money for charity. Since 2009, it has benefited Enfants d’Asie (Children of Asia), a girls-help-girls humanitarian association, launched in 1991, to promote women’s education in South East Asia. Every year, the donations received from le Bal have funded a year of schooling for about 900 disadvantaged girls in the mountains of Laos and Cebu in the Philippines, and the creation of a safe care.
Previous Debs Milana Brunel, Marie Victoire de Kergorlay, Julia Piaton de Turckheim and Natalia Zobel, volunteer in centers of Enfants d’Asie, can attest to the courage and determination of these young girls work extremely hard despite the odds, to obtain their diploma. The New Debs 2013 will have the opportunity to participate to Enfants d’Asie’s work.
Some of the notable past debutantes include:
- Jane Aldridge: USA (2009) wore Chanel HC
- Delphine Arnault: France (1994) wore Christian Lacroix HC
- Flora Astor: UK (1994) wore Bruce Oldfield
- Barbara Berlusconi: Italy (2001) wore Chanel HC
- Countess Stéphanie von Bismarck: Germany (1996) wore Christian Lacroix HC
- Ashley Bush: USA (2005) wore Ralph Lauren
- Lauren Bush: USA (2000) wore Christian Dior HC
- HRH Princess Charlotte de Bourbon, Princesse de Parme: France (2011) wore Atelier Versace
- Bronwen Carter: USA (2012) wore Carolina Herrera
- SAS Princess Alexandra de Croÿ-Roeulx: Belgium (2006) wore Givenchy HC
- Francesca Eastwood: USA (2009) wore Dolce & Gabbana Couture
- Pétra Ecclestone: UK (2004) wore Christian Dior HC
- Tamara Ecclestone: UK (2000) wore Neil Cunningham
- Princess Fawzia Latifa of Egypt (1999) wore Carven HC
- Sarah de Goldschmidt – Rothschild: France (1992)
- Sophie Guerlain: France (1994) wore Courreges HC
- Xénia Virganskaya Gorbacheva: Russia (2002) wore Christian Dior HC
- Amanda Hearst: USA (2001) wore Carolina Herrera
- Lydia Hearst-Shaw: USA (2001) wore Thierry Mugler HC
- Dree Hemingway: USA (2003) wore Christian Dior HC
- Kathleen Kennedy: USA (2007) wore J.Mendel
- Princess Livia de Liechtenstein (1995) wore Chaumet
- Angela Mellon: USA (2006) wore Christian Lacroix HC
- Diana Mellon: USA (2003) wore Carolina Herrera
- Sarah Mellon: USA (2008) wore Oscar de La Renta
- Alexandra Mentzelopoulos: Greece (2004) wore Givenchy HC
- Margherita Maccapani Missoni: Italy (2002) wore Emmanuel Ungaro HC</li>
- Lily Mortimer: USA (2008) wore Oscar de La Renta
- Lady Tatiana Mountbatten: UK (2007) wore Christian Dior HC
- Princess Caroline Murat: France (1992)
- Penelope Pei-Tang: USA (2003) wore Zac Posen
- HIH, Princess Victoria-Louise of Prussia: Germany (2000) wore Vivienne Westwood
- Princess Augusta von Preussen: UK (2005) wore Giles Deacon
- India Oxenberg: USA (2008) wore J.Mendel
- Margaret Qualley: USA (2011) wore Elie Saab HC
- Rainsford Qualley: USA (2005) wore Gaultier Paris HC
- Michaela Raikes: USA (2005) wore Ralph Rucci HC
- Julia Restoin-Roitfeld: France (2001) wore Atelier Versace HC
- Alexis Saperstein: USA (2003) wore Givenchy HC
- Kari Schlegel: USA (2004) wore Elie Saab HC
- Zoé Bleu Sidel: USA (2012) wore Gaultier Paris
- Bee Shaffer: USA (2004) wore Chanel HC
- Lady Kitty Spencer: UK (2009) wore Bruce Oldfield
- Sophia Rose Stallone: USA (2012) wore Elie Saab HC
- Princess Caroline von Thurn und Taxis: Austria (2003) wore Versace HC
- Vanessa Traina: USA (2001) wore Christian Dior HC
- Victoria Traina: USA (2001) wore Christian Lacroix HC
- SAS Princess Costanza della Torre e Tasso: Italy (2006) wore Hardy Amies
- Autumn Whitaker: USA (2009) wore Jason Wu
- Scout laRue Willis: USA (2008) wore Christian Lacroix HC
- Tallulah Willis: USA (2011) wore Lanvin
This is now a Parisian institution, “one of the top 10 social events in the world”, according to Forbes magazine. Its success has been increasing year after year. From 1992 to 2011, the Crillon Hotel in Paris has served as the perfect home for le Bal.