Belle of the debu­tante ball

Kennedy scion, Kyra, opens Paris debu­tantes ball where high so­ci­ety meets haute cou­ture.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIVING - By HE­LEN ROWE

DRESSED in Dior, Kyra Kennedy, great-niece of the late US pres­i­dent, and her fa­ther Robert Kennedy Jr opened the Paris Debu­tantes Ball to the sound of a gypsy waltz at one of the so­cial events of the year where high so­ci­ety meets haute cou­ture.

The glit­ter­ing event saw 20 hand-picked “debu­tantes” dance, dine and net­work the night away in dresses loaned by some of Paris’ most fa­mous cou­ture houses.

Lord Ge­orge Porch­ester whose fam­ily owns High­clere Cas­tle, the set­ting for the hit tele­vi­sion se­ries Down­ton Abbey, was also in­vited, along with 18-year-old Kyra Kennedy’s fa­ther Robert – the son of John F. Kennedy’s brother Robert, who was also as­sas­si­nated.

Oth­ers tak­ing part in­cluded Bri­tish royal Lady Amelia Wind­sor, the grand­daugh­ter of one of Queen El­iz­a­beth II’s cousins, Francesca Packer Barham, grand­daugh­ter of Aus­tralian me­dia ty­coon Kerry Packer and Romy David, daugh­ter of Se­in­feld cre­ator Larry David.

From Asia, there was Akshita Bhan­jdeo of In­dia’s Bhanja dy­nasty, Filip­ina “It girl” Monica Urquijo Zo­bel, and Re­becca Eu, the Can­berrabased daugh­ter of a Chi­nese health­care com­pany chief.

Now in her 21st year or­gan­is­ing the ball, French­woman Ophe­lie Re­nouard had made no se­cret of her quest to track down as many big names as pos­si­ble.

In another pub­lic­ity coup this year, she se­cured the pres­ence of a Lon­don taxi driver’s daugh­ter, Lauren Marbe.

The 17-year-old made head­lines re­cently when she notched up an IQ test score of 161, one point higher than Einstein. “I read about her in the news­pa­pers, so I phoned her up and she said, ‘It is not my world but if you in­vite me, I will come’,” Re­nouard said. Her fa­ther, wear­ing black tie for the

first time, was over­whelmed.

“This is a dream! I still can­not be­lieve it,” he said.

The event at the Au­to­mo­bile Club of France is based on the debu­tantes balls that were once an es­tab­lished part of the Bri­tish up­per class’ so­cial cal­en­dar.

Th­ese launched well-born young women into so­ci­ety and – with luck – also in­tro­duced them to a po­ten­tial hus­band.

But the balls started to fall out of favour in the late 1950s af­ter Queen El­iz­a­beth abol­ished the prac­tice of the debu­tantes also be­ing pre­sented at court.

In re­cent decades, they have been rein­vented as glit­ter­ing fundrais­ers with the em­pha­sis on phi­lan­thropy and con­tact build­ing rather than find­ing a hus­band.

Among the new gen­er­a­tion of balls, Re­nouard’s alone of­fers par­tic­i­pants the chance to bor­row an haute cou­ture dress for the night.

“They are not in­ter­ested in find­ing a hus­band, they are too young,” she said.

“What they pre­fer is the dress, be­cause even if they are priv­i­leged, they have never been to an haute cou­ture house.”

In pre­vi­ous years, “Le Bal” has at­tracted the daugh­ters of Euro­pean aris­toc­racy as well as Hol­ly­wood A-lis­ters such as Demi Moore and Bruce Wil­lis, Andie MacDow­ell, Clint East­wood, and Sylvester Stal­lone.

The ball now has a strong show­ing from Asia but Re­nouard says she still has to crack Rus­sia.

“I’m not good on Rus­sia. It’s all about net­works,” she said. – AFP

Haute cou­ture: Great-niece of late Pres­i­dent John F Kennedy and daugh­ter of robert Kennedy Jr, Kyra Kennedy, mak­ing a grand en­trance in her dior gown. — aFP Pho­tos

big names like the Kennedys are the fo­cus of so­ci­ety ball or­gan­is­ers.

Kyra be­ing fit­ted at dior, Paris.

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