new debutantes from Le
Bal Crillon des Debutantes
Paris, France 2005 by R. Couri Hay
‘Tis the season for the world’s loveliest young girls to begin blossoming
into young women. This rite of passage is known as “coming out “ as
in making one’s formal “ debut” into high society.
These girls are called debutantes. Some became glamour girls of their generations
such as Barbara Hutton in 1931, Brenda Frazier in 1938 and Jacqueline
Bouvier,later Jackie Kennedy Onassis, in 1947 and Charlotte
Ford in 1959.
In New York we have the Infirmary Ball where Cornelia Guest and Lydia
Hearst-Shawcame out and the International Ball which has one debutante representing her
country from all over the world. It’s thought that Ashley Bush, the niece
of President George W. Bush, the granddaughter of George
H. W. Bush and the younger
sister of Lauren Bush will be asked to represent America next year.
These balls both happen at Christmastime at the Waldorf-Astoria. I escorted Blandy
Uzielli to the Infirmary Ball the same year Cornelia came out. I was also the
escort for Cornelia, along with director Jack Hofsiss at her own dance in Long
Island. Cornelia scandalized Long Island society by wearing a black and silver
mini dress by Fabrice while the other girls wore traditional white princess dresses.
Naturally she was a sensation. Fashion columnist Eugenia Shepard who wrote for
the New York Post dubbed her the “Deb of the Decade” and Suzy a.k.a.
Aileen Mehle proclaimed her the only Deb who mattered. Cornelia was a deb with
portfolio. Her godparents were the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and she is a
distant cousin of Winston Churchill. Her grandmother Amy
Phipps was a steel heiress
was once named the eighth richest woman in the world and her mother the legendary
society and style icon C.Z. Guest, a Boston Brahmin who was the glamour girl
of her generation. Her father was the famed polo player Winston F. C. Guest.
didn’t see a debutante of this magnitude until
2000 when Lauren Bush, Lydia Hearst–Shaw, and Amanda
Hearst made their debuts
in Paris at the Le Bal Crillon des Debutantes which not only launched their
social careers but
also their modeling careers. This year it was Ashley Bush who took the crown
in Paris at 16, which means she’ll reign for at least three years until
she makes her official debut at 18 in New York.
Bush with Prince Ahsley Poniatowski
Miss Bush was a vision in a periwinkle blue gown with a train by Ralph Lauren,
and a pearl tiara by Mikimoto Her 21-year-old sister Lauren Bush wore a black
Lauren gown with an opera length strand of pearls. Her beau is David
Lauren, the son of Ralph Lauren.
I attended the ball with the girls’ mother Sharon
Bush who wore a divine green velvet column by Naeem
Khan and her own blinding chandelier diamond earrings.
Other New Yorkers at the ball included John deNeufville,Vogue magazine
contributing editor Alexandra Kotur, Teen Vogue Editor Kimball
Hastings,Vanity Fair Editor
Punch Hutton, and celebrity modeling agent Christine
Schott who was checking out this years crop of girls for potential
modeling contracts. Schott represents both Lauren and Ashley Bush and Amanda
Once upon a time, aristocratic young ladies from
the United Kingdom waited breathlessly for their eighteenth
birthday. It was then
that they were presented to His or
Her Majesty, the King or Queen of England. After that the season’s all
important balls began. This Anglo-Saxon tradition of being presented at court
ended in 1958 but there are still important balls in London, New York, Boston,
Philadelphia and New Orleans. The two Southern balls take place during Mardi
Gras and called are called Comos and Rex, Comos being the crème de la
crème of the two.
I was an escort the year that Caroline Kennedy was there. My first
time as an
escort was in Boston at Pamela Wicks’ Ball when I
was 16. The debutante balls were as important a ritual for young men as for
young girls. They were
an ad hoc graduate course in polite behavior, chivalry and ballroom dancing,
the final test of the skills you were taught in dancing school. Mine was the
last generation of boys who had to wear white gloves at the cotillions. This
was done so as not to get the girls all icky when we started to sweat while being
humiliated on the dance floor as the girls who are always better dancers.
There’s nothing on the planet quite as beautiful as a young girl making
her debut into high society. When this is done on an international level it’s
inspiring. Chic French PR princess Ophélie Renouard re-invented this British
tradition and adopted it to the modern world in 1991 in Paris. It is now one
of the most dazzling social and fashion events on the international calendar.
final presentation of the debs
Bal Crillon des Debutantes in Paris is a unique
forum for the presentation of the world’s most
eligible young ladies. The ball is also referred to as
the Le Bal de Haute Couture, because it is also a catwalk
of the endless creativity of France’s top couturiers
including Christian Dior, Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld,
Gerald Watelet, Dominique Sirop, Stephanie Saunier, Monique
Lhuillier, Atelier, Didier Ludot, Franck Sorbier, Jean-Louis
Scherrer, Natan, Jean Paul Gaultier, as well
as a select few American designers including Ralph
Rucci, Zac Posen, and Ralph Lauren.
Le Bal benefits the Saint Lazare, the humanitarian organization that helps the
under privileged in more than thirty countries who are sick and have been rejected
France's Haute Couture Houses, Champagne Tattinger, Baccarat, the Crillon Hotel
and the jeweler Mikimoto join forces to present the "Paris Haute Couture
Ball". Mikimoto has been the patron of the Crillon Debutante Ball since
1996. Its founder, Kokichi Mikimoto, is the creator of the cultured
pearl and on this fairytale night, the 23 Debs wear the house’s jewelry.
Some of the girls wear tiaras, which makes them look like princesses out of a
Le Bal de Crillon celebrated its 15th anniversary this year. It takes place in
the reception rooms of the Hotel Crillon which is one of the grandest and most
historic establishments extant in Paris. Staying in their gracious rooms and
living in there hallowed allows the visitor a rare opportunity to step back into
a time, when elegant living and impeccable manners were important and worthy
goals in and of themselves.
The Hotel de Crillon is a rare jewel in the heart of Paris. It is a perfect combination
of history, beauty, art, service, and cuisine. It was commissioned by Louis XV
in 1775. The hotel's
name refers to the Count of Crillon also known as Francois-Felix Dorothee
Berton des Balbes who acquired the mansion in 1788. It was seized during
the French Revolution by the government. Just beyond its door in what is now
the Place de la Concorde, the Bourbon king and queen lost their heads of the
guillotine of the Terror.
The property was returned to the Crillon family in 1907. The hotel has 103 rooms,
39 suites and 5 luxurious penthouses and retains the intimate atmosphere of a
private residence. The reception dining rooms overlook the magnificent Place
de la Concorde, which was built by Jacques Ange Gabriel, Louis
XV's architect. The construction began in 1754 and was completed in 1763, and
it was originally called Place Louis XV. The initial purpose of the Place was
to hold a statue of Louis XV on a horse.
The Crillon is part of the Taittinger Group, and was acquired by Starwood Capital
last fall, and thankfully they are committed to the keeping up the tradition
of Le Bal Crillon des Debutantes. Mr. Russell Sternlicht, the
dashing brother of Starwood Capital Group founder and CEO Barry Sternlicht, is
the managing director of this esteemed establishment, and this year hosted the
Ball with his wife and SAR Prince Charles-Philippe d’Orleans, along
with Vanity Fair photographer Jonathan Becker who was
the evening's master of ceremonies.
Le Bal Crillon des Debutantes
The 2005 debs are sixteen to nineteen years old and come from ten countries including
France, Italy, Japan, Spain, Thailand, and the United States. This gala is the
only debutante ball in France. It begins with a presentation of the girls followed
by a dinner and “le Bal”. Each debutante wears a gown from a Haute
Couture House of her choice that is made for her.
1. Ashley Bush was escorted by Prince Ashley Poniatowski. Miss Bush prefers theatre
to politics and wants to become an actress. Ralph Lauren designed her elegant
periwinkle blue gown for her.
2. Comtesse Bianca Brandolini d’Adda was escorted by Antoine
de Tavernost, and wore a gorgeous black and white Valentino gown. Bianca
carries a legendary
Italian name, which goes back to the year 700. Her mother, Georgina, is
her father is Prince Jean-Louis de Faucigny Lucinge and great
uncle was Giovanni Agnelli.
3. Princesse Augusta von Preussen was escorted by Rodrigo
Olaechea. She wore
a Giles Deacon gown and a Mikimoto tiara. Augusta’s sister Beatrice made
her debut at the Crillon in 1999.
4. Vicomtesse Dorothée de Jonghe d’Ardoye was escorted by Antoine
Woitrin. The Vicomtesse who is from Belgium chose a cocoa colored gown by Natan,
the designer to the Belgian Royal family for her big night.
5. Yuki Mori was escorted by her brother by Ben Mori. She is the granddaughter
of the Japanese fashion designer Hanae Mori, who had her own Haute Couture house
in Paris until last year. Her older sister Izumi made her debut in 2004 and was
also escorted by her brother Ben. Yuki came from Los Angeles with a gown by Monique
Lhuillier packed in her bags. Personally I wish she had worn a vintage gown by
her grandmother whose clothes are an important part of fashion history.
6. Rainsford Qualley was escorted by Gabriel Deletaille. She wore a wore a black
lace illusion dress by Jean Paul Gaultier. Rainsford is the daughter of the actress
Andie MacDowell, who also wore Gaultier and carried a professional size camera
to photograph her daughter. Rainey lives with her family in North Carolina and
hopes to become a professional dancer. This quality demonstrated real presence
on the Crillon’s marble floors
7. Molly Flattery was escorted by Greg Young. She
is the granddaughter of Steve
McQueen and his first wife Neile Adams. Molly made
her debut in Dior Haute Couture.
Molly carried herself with great grace.
8. Maria Juncadella-Hohenlohe was escorted by Christian
Juncadella-Hohenlohe. She is Spanish and lives in Madrid with her mother,
Princess Cristina Hohenlohe. Maria’s late great-uncle,
Prince Alfonso Hohenlohe founded the Marbella Club and was the
father of Princess
Arianna von Hohenlohe who lives in New York
and is married to Dixon Boardman. Maria chose a bottle green gown by Ungaro Haute
9. Sofia Barclay was escorted by Sebastian Donnelly. She follows in the footsteps
of her sister Jenna who made her debut at the Crillon last year. Sofia is the
daughter of Aidan and Ferzana Barclay and the granddaughter of Sir David
Barclay. She wore a dress by her favorite designer Elie Saab.
10. Laetitia Marie de Moustier was escorted by Louis
de Chaudenay. She wore Gerald
Watelet. The Moustiers are from France and trace their lineage back to the Crusades.
They live in Rio de Janeiro, but Laetitia chose to make her debut on the soil
of her ancestors.
11. Natapree Pichaironarongsongkram was escorted by Nicolas
St. Bris. She is
the first “new deb” from Thailand and wore a gown by Dominique Sirop
and a simple strand of perfect pearls by Mikimoto.
de Rivoyre was escorted by Paul-Mederic
de Rivoyre. She chose a gown by Stephane Saunier
13. Salima Mangalji was escorted by Felipe Olaechea. She
is from Texas and wore
a gown by Zac Posen.
14. Marie de Menthon (who is a student
at Hypokhagne) was escorted Ludovic des Yons
Feuchin. She loves fashion and the designs of Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel
Haute Couture. She wore the evening’s best dress, a pink gown by Karl Lagerfeld
for Chanel Houte Couture, the very one that stunned and delighted the critics
when it appeared on the runway last season.
15. Camille de Dampierre was escorted Alexander Tsavliris. She
is the fourth
of the debs to follow in her sisters’ footsteps.Laurence
de Dampierre came out in 1999. Camille sports an aristocratic Norman
name, dating back to the 14th century. She chose Versace and it was without question
the raciest and most talked about dress at the ball that was slashed as high
and cut as low
as the law allows. She looked like a Hollywood’s glamour girl, ready for
the red carpet and the big screen. Time will tell.
16. Laoura Lalaounis-Macropoulou was escorted by Paul
du Fraysseix. Her grandfather, Ilias Lalaounis is the
legendary jeweler. Laoura studies in England, but had her fittings in Paris,
at Givenchy, her favorite designer.
17. Nadine Ghosn was escorted by Jacques-Louis de La
Beraudiere and has just returned from Japan. She was dressed by Didier
Ludot in a black, white and brown dress by Jacques Heim vintage Haute Couture
18. Yasmin Kerr was escorted by Louis Delafon. She
is the child of rock royalty.
Her father Jim Kerr is the lead singer of the group “Simple
her mother Chrissie Hynde is a member of
the “Pretenders”. Yasmin wants to be an actress. Her dramatic evening
gown was by Vivienne Westwood.
19. Theodora Warre was escorted by George Northcott and
is classic British rose.
She wore a gown by Neil Cunningham with long white gloves.
20. Philippine Hubin was escorted by Edmond de Fels. She
chose a dress by Franck
Sorbier Haute Couture and a tiara by Mikimoto.
21. Mathilde Katsura Kanno was escorted by Nathaniel
Eckovich. She is the daughter
of the renowned pianist, Jun Kanno and his French wife. She
wore a red gown designed
by Stephane Rolland for Jean-Louis Scherrer Haute Couture.
22. Ginevra Doria was escorted by Ambrogio Doria. She
wore a pink confection by Christian Lacroix HC. Miss Doria is descended from
one of Genoa’s
oldest families. One of her ancestors was Andréa Doria, an
advisor to Charles V of Spain.
23. Michaela Raikes was escorted by Prince Dimitris
Soutzo. Michaela chose Ralph Rucci. After her debut she will travel
to India to do volunteer work in an orphanage. Bravo Michaela who sets a perfect
example for young ladies of privilege who are committed to helping those less
fortunate than they are.