IN THEIR PRIME
referred to as the Crillon Ball), but it was recently acquired by Rosewood Hotels & Resorts and is being renovated ahead of a grand reopening later this year. In the interim, the Bal is being held at the Palais de Chaillot in Trocadéro, and the debutantes stay at plush Hôtel Raphael near the Arc de Triomphe.
It’s in this old-world Parisian building where the young women, daughters of aristocrats, film stars, politicians and billionaires, meet for the first time. Walking into one of their richly decorated sitting rooms, I pick my way over a sea of discarded Louboutin shoes and am hit by a wall of sound. Teenage laughter mixes with mobile phone ring tones, the whine of hairdryers and excited chatter in a medley of languages.
There are three Asian debs this year: from Hong Kong, Elly Lam, the daughter of Peter Lam and Lynn Hsieh, and Alexandra Louey, daughter of William Louey and MarieChristine Lee; and from the Philippines, Emily Madrigal, daughter of Vincent and Ann Madrigal. “I am having so much fun,” says Lam. “I love doing photo shoots and I really feel like this is my moment to shine.” Louey agrees, saying, “I imagine this is what getting married feels like, getting to look beautiful and be the centre of attention all weekend.”
Lam, inspired by her sister’s wedding dress choice, is wearing Dior Haute Couture, Louey is resplendent in a purple Georges Chakra gown, and Madrigal wears a full-skirted pink dress by J Mendel. “It was so exciting getting to talk to J Mendel and work out exactly what suited me,” says Madrigal. “This dress is like something out of a fairy tale.”
But for many of these young women, interacting with celebrated designers is no rarity. Princess Larissa of WindischGraetz lives in an ancient palace off the Piazza Navona in Rome with her parents, Archduchess Sophie of Austria and Prince Mariano Hugo of Windisch- Graetz, and looks
CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: NAOMI SCHROEDER; ELLY LAM AND ALEXANDRA LOUEY; GINEVRA FONTES WILLIAMS AND VICTOR BELMONDO; ISABEL BEATTY, VIOLA JACOBSEN MIKKELSEN AND ELLA MOUNTBATTEN; TOMMASO CRIMI, LODOVICO GRITTI, SIXTE DE L’ESPÉE, EMILION DE ROQUEFEUIL AND OCTAVE LE GOUVELLO