Paris's annual debutante ball reinvigorates a formal rite of passage with freshly chic and feminine beauty.
Twenty-three girls debut as beautiful young women at the the Crillon Ball in an age-old tradition offering a showcase of international society, gorgeous gowns, a cause for charity and an alluring bloom of youth.
The world loves a fairy tale. Youth, beauty and privilege captivate a gilded salon in Paris, overlooking the harmonious evening light of the Place de la Concorde. A grand scene, indeed – but the dream really comes true in the details, and the family spirit behind them.
The tradition began as a way of presenting young ladies at court in preparation for marriage, their debut into the world just after leaving the convent. In its modern reincarnation, it is a celebration of worldly femininity and elegance, and it stands as one last gift parents can give to their children before they face the challenges of adulthood. Whatever life may bring these gracious, bright young ladies, it is a luxury for them to know that there was a day in their existence that was theirs alone. Families had both private joy and beaming pride in presenting these modern young women – not necessarily for marriage, but to celebrate their future.
Descendants of some of history's greatest personalities in politics, entertainment and aristocracy - from China to Brazil, with a smattering of European regality - the international debutantes represent sixteen countries overall. Beyond the formal rules of social comportment, the girls are kind, not competitive. With the carefree spirit of a summer camp, though set in the elegant annals of Paris's Place de la Concorde, the girls enjoy the experience without flaunting their right to be there.
The gowns express the diversity of the young women's taste, and the debut of a lifetime of creative patronage. Representing the most prestigious, exquisite design talent of their cultural origins, the gowns, just like the jewels, are chosen by the girls themselves.
Here, for the second consecutive year, Adler jewels from Geneva adorned the young women with diamonds. As Ophélie Renouard, the event's producer explains, "The Ball is a family event so I wanted a family-run, privately-owned jeweler. The Adlers are a Turkish family established in Switzerland; their fabulous jewels reflect the perfect mix of East and West. Their exceptional jewels are chosen depending on the girl's personality, her coloring and the style and color of her gown." In a grand production worthy of the most glamorous of fashion shoots, Alexander de Paris and MAC makeup sent in a fleet of stylists to prepare the girls for the barrage of photo flashes and the final ball on Saturday evening.
The essential allure of the fairy tale is, of course, the glitter, the glamour and the grandeur. At second glance, however, a deeper layer reveals that the true allure is in the dignity of history, the education in graciousness, and the reception of a parent's proud admiration. Even deeper still - yet playfully superficial all the same – the Debutante Ball is an opportunity to feel beautiful, to have fun, and to make friends. A girl's dream, and a woman's beginning.
The 2007 Debutantes and their Couture Houses:
Maria Abou Nadar, Lebanon, Georges Chakra
Tansy Aspinall, UK, Vivienne Westwood
Beatrice Bradlee, USA, Carolina Herrera
Josephine Bradlee, USA, Givenchy Haute Couture
Lily Collins, UK, Chanel Haute Couture
Maria Teresa Frering, Brazil, Valentino Haute Couture
Marie-Solène d'Harcourt, France, Stéphane Saunier
Louise Hayat. France, Lanvin
Katheleen Kennedy, USA, J. Mendel
Alexandra Kolasinski, France, Vionnet
Gemima Lemos McMahon, Brazil, Elie Saab Haute Couture
Rebecca von Meister, Germany, Gaultier Paris Haute Couture
Rozanna Misiurewicz, Poland, Dominique Sirop Haute Couture
Weronika Misiurewicz, Poland, Dominique Sirop Haute Couture
Reika Miyazaki, Japan, Carven Haute Couture
Lily Moritmer, USA, Oscar de la Renta
Lady Tatiana Mountbatten, UK, Christian Dior Haute Couture
Comtesse Anna de Pahlen, Italy, Atelier Versace
Olivia Pei, China/USA, Cho Cheng
Cosima Ramirez Ruiz de la Prada, Spain, Christian Lacroix Haute Couture
Tara Sutin, Switzerland, Angel Sanchez
Anna Wallenberg, Sweden, Ben de Lisi
Judith de Warren, France, Stéphane Rolland Couture