Some of the 24 fortunate young women at the Bal Crillon des Debutantes in Paris Saturday night had at least one thing in common with Cinderella: They couldn’t hang onto their dresses much beyond midnight.
“We can’t keep ours — they are archive pieces,” lamented the Lanvin-clad English deb Angelica Hicks, who was in the same predicament as Carinthia Pearson, decked out in Alexander McQueen. “I could have worn something by mum, but I have so much of her stuff already,” added Hicks, daughter of Allegra and Ashley Hicks.
Big-name designers dressed daughters and mothers for the 19th annual event at the Crillon Hotel, sponsored by Swiss jeweler Adler and benefiting children’s charities in Asia. Francesca Fisher Eastwood and her actress mother, Frances Fisher, both wore Dolce & Gabbana looks: one blue, one green.
“Dad couldn’t make it,” noted Francesca of her father, Clint Eastwood, though his absence didn’t seem to dampen her enjoyment of the evening. Meanwhile, Fisher said she was about to start filming a comedy for the Hallmark Channel.
“It’s about a mother trying to stop her daughter from marrying the wrong man,” she explained.
Eligible young men — an assortment of boyfriends, friends and brothers — accompanied the debs, although debutante Adishree Singh said her brother bowed out of being her escort.
“He definitely did not want to do it,” said Singh, who just finished her first year at Parsons The New School for Design in New York. Descended from the maharajas, Singh wore a turquoise and gold embroidered design by Ritu Beri. “I really wanted to wear an Indian designer. It’s important to help out fellow Indians,” she said.
“I really hope I get to keep my dress,” enthused Autumn Whitaker of her Jason Wu gown, as father, Forest Whitaker, looked on.
“I am just so excited for her,” said the actor, who recently wrapped a couple of films, including one by French director Olivier Dahan called “My Own Love Song” opposite Renée Zellweger. His wife, model and actress Keisha Whitaker, wore a figure-hugging Zuhair Murad dress and Cynthia Bach jewelry.
Meanwhile, Texan shoe fiend Jane Aldridge, who has developed quite a following on her blog, Seaofshoes.com, had little time to update it since arriving in Paris.
“It’s been nonstop,” she gasped from her bodice-hugging Chanel dress.
Lady Kitty Spencer, accompanied by Tatler writer Richard Dennen, came dressed by Bruce Oldfield, following fittings for her gown in London.
“Thank goodness none of this has clashed with my exams,” said Spencer. She is also preparing to launch a fashion label and has become an ambassador for the Michelle McLean Children Trust, which aids youngsters in Namibia and South Africa. Spencer’s own connection to the continent was one reason for her participation in the ball. “I think I am the only South African to have taken part,” she said.
In the end, not all the girls in attendance had a pumpkin moment when the party drew to a close. Spencer, for one, was delighted to learn some of her fellow debs were able to hang onto their gowns as souvenirs.
“Really — do we get to keep them?” she cooed.