While their American peers will be spending the post-Thanksgiving weekend eating leftovers in sweatpants, 25 well-heeled young ladies will be involved in a decidedly chicer activity — making their debut at the Bal Crillon des Debutantes at Paris’ Crillon Hotel on Saturday night. Founded by Parisian public relations maven Ophélie Renouard, the Bal, now in its 19th year, attracts the daughters of global bigwigs from the worlds of entertainment, politics, literature, art and fashion. (Victoria and Vanessa Traina, Lauren Bush, Amanda Hearst and Lily Collins all have been participants.)
This story first appeared in the November 24, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
This year’s lineup is no different: The ball’s first legitimate Indian princess, Adishree Singh, will make her debut alongside Francesca Eastwood, the 17-year-old daughter of Clint, and Lady Kitty Spencer, niece of the late Princess Diana. Each girl will be coupled with an escort (called a “cavalier”), many of whom have a similarly notable pedigree. (Organizers are particularly proud of tapping Alessandro Belmondo, son of French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo, for this year’s bash.)
What’s more, each girl also has paired up with a fashion house to design her gown for the big night, while Adler, the ball’s official jewelry sponsor, will provide the debs with baubles.
Here, WWD presents seven of this year’s standout participants. Read on>>
Lady Kitty Spencer
Hometown: London and Cape Town, South Africa
Bloodline: Dad is Earl Spencer, Princess Diana’s brother; mom is former model Victoria Lockwood.
Education: First-year student at the University of Cape Town.
Wearing: British couturier Bruce Oldfield, a favorite of Princess Di’s.
Escort: Tatler scribe Richard Dennen, who befriended Spencer after he interviewed her for the magazine.
Tatler tales: In 2007, after just one public appearance, Tatler named Spencer the most eligible girl in Britain.
Hometown: Trophe Club, Tex.
Education: Was, until last year, a student at Westlake Academy near Dallas. Aldridge is finishing up her senior year by being homeschooled.
Bloodline: Writes the popular Sea of Shoes fashion blog with her mother, Judy. (Aldridge says editors at Vogue set her up with the ball’s organizers after Aldridge and her mother posed for an accessories shoot in the magazine’s August issue.)
Wearing: Chanel Haute Couture
Escort: Cambridge University student Octavian Donnelly.
Busy Bee: “It’s not like I can take up horseback riding,” says the busy Aldridge, who says she goes through more than 100 e-mails a day from blog readers and has just finished the second installment of her capsule shoe collection for Urban Outfitters, J. Aldridge by Sea of Shoes.
Next: Autumn Whitaker>>
Bloodline: Dad is actor Forest Whitaker; mom is actress and model Keisha Whitaker.
Education: Senior at Los Angeles’ Pilgrim School.
Wearing: Jason Wu
Escort: Friend William Bellingham, who can trace his ancestry back to Sir Anthony of Bellingham, 8th Baronet of Castlebellingham.
Party girl: Whitaker’s rock ’n’ roll-themed sweet 16 was featured in Teen Vogue last year.
Hometown: Turin, Italy
Bloodline: Mom is Italian romance writer Benedetta Cibrario, winner of the country’s prestigious Campiello Prize in 2008.
Education: First-year student at University College London.
Wearing: Atelier Versace
Escort: Spanish teen José-Luis de Vilallonga, whose twin brother, Rafael, is also a cavalier.
Current home: New York
Bloodline: Great-grandaughter of Hari Singh, the last maharaja of the princely states of Jammu and Kashmir; granddaughter of Indian politician Dr. Karan Singh.
Education: Student at Parsons The New School for Design.
Wearing: Indian designer Ritu Beri.
Escort: London businessman Damian Kimmelman.
Hometown: New York City
Bloodline: Grandfather is billionaire Chinese gambling mogul and entrepreneur Stanley Ho.
Education: Junior at tony Swiss boarding school Aiglon College.
Wearing: Dior Haute Couture (LVMH honcho Bernard Arnault is a friend and business partner of Ho’s grandfather.)
Escort: Sorbonne law student Stéphane de Watazzi.
All in the family: Ho’s brother also is participating in the ball as a cavalier.
Johanna Piaton de Turckheim
Bloodline: Mom is French actress and screenwriter Charlotte de Turckheim.
Education: Student at the prestigious Sciences Po (Paris Institute of Political Studies).
Wearing: Elie Saab Haute Couture
Escort: Friend Constantin Wolfrom.
Acting out: An aspiring actress, Piaton de Turckheim has scored supporting roles in a few of her mother’s movies, including 2006’s “Les Astros.”