Crillon Ball

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2009 Crillon Ball debutantes
2008 Crillon Ball debutantes

The annual Debutante Ball has formerly been held at the ultra-chic Le Crillon hotel, overlooking Paris' Place de la Concorde. Proceeds from donations made on the night of the ball [1] go to charity and admission was strictly by invitation only. Many of the débutantes represented a leading international fashion house. The ball brought together some of the great fashion houses (IE Dior, Chanel, Lacroix), and hopeful budding roses of the international social scene. The guest list, although dominated by the international aristocracy, also included celebrities from the world of art and sport. Debutantes were introduced, accompanied by their brothers, boyfriends and emotional mothers (who remember the romance of their own deb balls) before sitting down for a meal, then being swept off their feet on the dance floor. [2]

Twenty-four girls from all over the world were trussed up into high-end pret au porter or couture and "presented to society" on the arm of a dashing escort chosen for them by the event's organizer Ophélie Renouard. Strictly invitation only, the ball has in past years included lucky debutantes like Amanda Hearst, Lauren Bush Daughter of Neal Bush, Victoria and Vanessa Traina, and Bee Shaffer—whose mom, Vogue editor Anna Wintour, Renouard remembers fondly. [3] Other infamous guests included the granddaughter of Stanley Ho in 2009[4]


Once upon a time, young ladies from aristocratic families in the U.K. waited eagerly for their eighteenth birthdays, when they would be presented to H.M. the Queen. This was the start of the season's balls. These young ladies were known as débutantes, and this Anglo-Saxon tradition would go on to influence balls throughout Europe.

In France, the Couture House Jean Patou restored the tradition in 1957. It became an annual event, taking place at either the Versailles Palace or the Opera in Paris. Mr Jacques Chazot presented the débutantes dressed in white gowns, with white gloves and tiaras. The political events of May 1968 saw the end of the debutant ball in France.

In 1991, Ophélie Renouard revived the tradition, adapting it to the modern world, by creating 'le Bal'. She had convinced the Taittinger family to hire her to promote the Crillon Hotel [5] and combining it into a French fashion event by encouraging leading fashion houses to lend sample dresses to the debutantes for use on the night of the event. Her connection to Bernard Arnault no doubt facilitated that due to his ownership of Luis Vuitton Moet Hennesy (LVMH), His own daughter, Delphine Arnault, was a participant in 1994.[6]

According to Le Bal press releases, the purpose of le Bal was to raise money for a humanitarian aid charity but that is publicly questioned by some. [7]. The most recent charity, Enfant D'Asie reported their annual donation income for 2009 as around 60,000Euros from the proceeds of about six events. [8] While we do not know precisely the amount, the truth is that several of the other events are considered larger income makers and on average, each would have gotten a share of 15,000Euros only (less than the price of one haute couture gown).

From 1991 until 2009, the Crillon Hotel, overlooking the Place de la Concorde, had served as the perfect location for le Bal.

The ball's modern and international image has been established by new debs such as : Princess Fawzia Latifa of Egypt, Enayat Younes, Princess Lorenza of Liechtenstein, Princess Alix of Ligne, Princess Sarah Poniatowska, Elisabeth Senghor, Diane and Chloé Bouygues, Delphine Arnault, Anouchka Delon, Bélen Domecq, Julia Puig, Izumi and Yuki Mori, Harumi and Anna Klossowska de Rolla, Yasmine, daughter of the artist Arman, Ségolène Frère, Princesse Alexandra of Croÿ, Princess Anne Héléne of Arenberg, Anna and Violet Hesketh, Eva Rice, Lady Tatiana Mountbatten, Barbara Berlusconi, Princess Costanza della Torre e Tasso, Countess Lavinia Borromeo, Countesses Sofia, Anna and Tatiana de Pahlen, Wan Bao-Bao, Penelope Peï-Tang, Ksénia and Anastasia Gorbacheva, Kathleen Kennedy, Lady Kitty Spencer, Ariel Ho Tjaer, Amanda Hearst, Lauren and Ashley Bush, Dree Hemingway-Crisman, Scout laRue Willis and Diana, Angela and Sarah Mellon.

The above lists cites several 'Princessess, however in November 2009, the organizers are claiming that Princess Adisheree Singh is the first actual princess. [9] Previous princesses could be difficult to verify. A former participant, has been quoted in press that she realized that she was chosen due to her lineage, stating: "I think it was largely because I have a title, which the ‘internationals’ find very exciting, even though it doesn’t mean anything – Prussia hasn’t existed for years." [10] Even Adisheree Singh is not a 'Princess'. At best, her title would be 'Mahakumari', had the English Raj still been in existence. But now, Indian titles do not apply as the Maharadjas were colonial British administrative denotations, not principalities, and disbanded with the independence of India.


The organizers of the Crillon Ball are currently considering an American produced documentary on the making of the 2011 Crillon Ball (or perhaps only 'Le Bal' if the venue changes). They are also considering producing a documentary for the Asian market. (no reference as we have been contacted directly by the organizers).

Haute Couture or Not Couture?

The organizers have previously billed this event as "Le Bal de La Haute Couture"[11]. This caused trouble for them[12] because A) they did not have permission from the Chambre Syndicale De La Haute Couture to use this protected syndicate denotation in the title of their event, and B) not all dresses are actually "Haute Couture" which is a protected trademark limited to select participants of the Syndicate since 1868[13]. Suggesting that all were Haute Couture when they were not, was damaging to the brand and name recognition of "Haute Couture".



  1. Le 21-11-2009
  2. [1]
  3. [2]
  5. [3]
  9. Nov 21, 2009
  12. according to a personal communique from the president of the Chambre Syndicale
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