“When a deb wants us to find her a cavalier, we look at the ages, the language they speak, their heights and possibly their backgrounds and usually it works,” says Renouard. “We certainly do not plan romance, but the beauty of it is that it often happens unexpectedly. One German debutante married her cavalier and they now have a young daughter who I will certainly invite to the ball as soon as she turns 16. It really is a very romantic night.”
As I arrive at the Palais de Chaillot the following evening, I can see why the Bal is a breeding ground for young love. The dining room and dancefloor are dominated by the view of the Eiffel Tower just outside the bay windows, and huge vases of white roses scent the room. As princes and princesses, dukes and duchesses, film stars and CEOS mingle in the cavernous hallway, I slip downstairs to see the debutantes and their dates before their moment in the spotlight.
“I’m a bit nervous, but mainly really excited. And luckily my cavalier is super nice,” says Lam, who has been paired with Viscount Emilion de Roquefeuil. “I met him at the waltz rehearsal. It was definitely awkward to meet someone and then have to hold their hand for two hours, but he was super charming and kept saying ‘look into my eyes’ because I was a bit shy. Everyone has been swooning over him and saying how much he looks like Chuck Bass from Gossip Girl.” Isabel Beatty, the willowy, dark-haired daughter of Warren Beatty and Annette Bening, is also rather taken by her cavalier, Brandolino Gritti. “We’ve only just met but he’s lovely and we’re good friends already,” she says. “He’s Italian and it’s so nice to get to know someone a bit different. I feel a million “I IMAGINE THIS IS WHAT GETTING MARRIED FEELS LIKE, GETTING TO LOOK BEAUTIFUL AND BE THE CENTRE OF ATTENTION ALL WEEKEND”
MARGOT MASSENET IN THE CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN ROOM