I’m constantly looking for an inspiration! A story that takes you to a beautiful realm to awaken your sense of extraordinary worth and magical feels. Last week, on a spa weekend, while turning the pages of my favorite mag, I came across an article that made me daydream for a few hours. Naturally, I couldn’t wait to share it with you…
There’s a place where actors, musicians, designers, publishers, writers, politicians, bankers, sport stars, businessmen and royalties showcase their best assets. It’s a micro-universe that links youth and beauty to fashion and charity. About twenty-five 16-21 year old young heiresses gather each year on Thanksgiving weekend at the Crillon Ball or simply, le Bal.
For over 20 years now Ophélie Renouard, a French PR women organizes the event and selects the invitees to “one of the top 10 social events in the world”, according to Forbes magazine. They are considered, based not only on their last names but also on their looks and personalities. Ophélie is not afraid to omit sending an invitation for a famous Hollywood star’s heiress if they turn out too spoiled to attend. She’s been called “The woman who reshaped high society” by The Daily Mail and “Fairy godmother to the new debs” by The Telegraph. Just like the fairy in the story of Cinderella, Renouard (with the modern twist of the new millennium) helps the debs choose couture wear, make up, shoes, hair styles and guides them through waltz rehearsals and défilé. The preparation for the event usually takes a whole year.
The long-lost aristocratic English tradition is revived in its modern perspective, where instead of introducing the crème-de-la-crème of young ladies with the sole purpose of finding a husband, it’s just a way to debut high society, wear couture for the first time and realize the responsibility that comes with fame and legacy.
Let’s take a closer look to some of the famous debutants and their life stories since the very beginning. I’ll split the stories in three, so you can have enough time to remember these inspirational young ladies…
In the distant 1992 at the age of 19 Lady Sophia Alexandra Hamilton makes her social debut at le Bal in Givenchy Haute Couture. Daughter of Alexandra Anastasia Phillips and James Hamilton – the 5th duke of Abercorn and one of the largest landowners in all of Ireland, she was a former model. This year she is turning 41 as a successful co-designer at Hamilton-Paris. Last year she got engaged to Hashem Arouzi, son of Mrs. Firouzeh Rastegar, of Lausanne, Switzerland, and the late Alireza Arouzi. Lady Sophia was formerly married to war correspondent Anthony Loyd (2002-2005).
The haute couture choice of the then 20-year old Harumi Klossowksi de Rola for her debut in 1993 was Hanae Mori. She is the daughter of famous painters Balthus (1908-2001) and Setsuko Klossowski de Rola, née Setsuko Ideta. Her name means “spring beauty” and she is now a jewelry designer who’s created unique pieces for Boucheron, Chopard and Swarowski.
One of the world’s richest women debuted society at le Bal in 1994 when she was 19. Her name is Delphine Arnault and she is the heiress of LVMH chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bernard Arnault. As a director of the biggest luxury produce company in the world, she’s been called “The Napoleon of the luxury product business”, and “Wolf in a cashmere coat” for her incredible sense of business and extremely hard work. Delphine had the wedding of 2005 in Bordeaux, wearing John Galliano couture and surrounded by 5000 white roses when she got married to Italian wine heir Alessandro Vallarino Gancia, whom she divorced five years later. She is now a mother to 19-month old Elisa.
Arm in arm with her younger brother, Emilie Jarre debuted in 1995. Jean-Michelle Jarre’s then 19-year old daughter wore Bruce Oldfield couture. She is a former model and a fashion designer. Emilie is actively participating in social life, attending fashion events, royal weddings and charities.
Escorted by her future husband Countess Stephanie von Bismarck-Schönhausen attended le Bal in 1996 when she was 20. Sparkling in Christian Lacroix haute couture, the heiress of the famous German aristocracy danced the night away with Baron Karl-Theodor von & zu Guttenberg, whom she married four years later. They have two daughters – Anna and Mathilde but Stephanie is a prominent activist against child abuse. She is the President of the German section of Innocence in Danger, a human rights NGO working to protect the rights of children on the Internet and to restrict the spread of child pornography. She is the co-author of the book Schaut nicht weg! Was wir gegen sexuellen Missbrauch tun müssen. Beautiful, smart and noble, Stephanie was a true noteworthy le Bal attendant.
Dressed in Jean-Paul Gaultier Haute Couture, Gaia Trussardi entered society at le Bal in 1997. Her cavalier was her oldest sibling, brother Francesco who died tragically at the early age of 29 after a car accident. Gaia is now the middle heiress of the Trussardi empire and a creative director of the fashion house. Her older sister, Beatrice is the president and CEO of Trussardi Group since 2002 and their younger brother Tomaso just became a father few months ago. In 2006 Gaia married Ricardo Rosen and they have two children Nichola (named after his grandfather) and Isabella.
Yasmine Arman, Delphine Delafon and Nicoletta Consolo-Romanoff were among the 1998 le Bal debs. 16-year old Yasmine shined in Louis Féraud haute couture, Delphine (who was the same age) wore Olivier Lapidus and Nicoletta (19) dazed in Emanuel Ungaro haute couture.As the daughter of the famous sculptor and painter Arman (1928-2005), Yasmine is now a high-valued contemporary artist that specialises in “writing with light”. She creates unique three-dimensional compositions with layered meanings and hierarchies that she likes to call “photo-graphs”, acquired by many European and American collectors.
Delphine Delafon is now famous for her custom-made handbags. They are unique and numbered; her customers participate actively in the design process. We’re all looking forward to the clothing line she’s planning to compliment the IT bag. The French-American fashion designer is a mother of 4-year old Camille and lives in Paris.
Nicoletta Consolo-Romanoff has a Russian royal origin (she is the granddaughter of Prince Nikolai Romanov) and her father is an Italian politician. She is now a promising actress and a mother of three children – Gabriele (14) and Francesco (15) (from her five-year marriage to Federico Scardamaglia), and Maria (4) from her long-term relationship with Italian actor Giorgio Pasotti.
TO BE CONTINUED…