8 Young Ladies You Should Know From 2017's Le Bal Des Debutantes
- Alice Ho, Hong KongAlice Ho, Hong Kong
- Ava Philippe, USAAva Philippe, USA
- Lori Harvey, USALori Harvey, USA
- Helena Alesi, Japan/FranceHelena Alesi, Japan/France
- Cecily Lasnet, UKCecily Lasnet, UK
- Ananya Panday, IndiaAnanya Panday, India
- Amina Martinez de Irujo y Casanova, SpainAmina Martinez de Irujo y Casanova, Spain
- Princesse Natasha d'Arenberg, BelgiumPrincesse Natasha d'Arenberg, Belgium
The famed Le Bal Des Débutantes returned this year for its 25th edition with the high caliber of heiresses, aristocrats and celebrities’ offspring. Organised annually by PR maven Ophélie Renouard, it was hosted at The Peninsula in Paris for the second time in a row (the Hotel de Crillon used to be its original venue).
Le Bal is, to the girls who attend it, a princess-experience way of entering the world of high society as well as media and couture, as each high-powered, image-savvy and well-connected young woman makes her appearance in bespoke gowns from some of the world’s most renowned fashion houses.
It is also a night of philanthropy, as Renouard donates the night’s entire proceedings to two charities: the New York City-based Seleni Institute, which supports the reproductive and mental health of teen mothers, and Enfants d'Asie, which promotes the education of young girls in Southeast Asia.
See also: Meet Asia's 50 Most Eligible Bachelors
The soiree took place last Saturday night (November 25), with 22 brilliant debs lighting up the ballroom of The Peninsula. Here are eight of the most noteworthy:
Alice Ho, Hong Kong
Who is she: Hong Kong-born Alice was the only deb from Asia and our very own city. The youngest daughter of tycoon Stanley Ho, she is currently enrolled at MIT, where she is studying math, computer science and “a few other nerdy subjects,” as she told us. She donned a dreamy Dior gown. Also, we’re pretty sure she was the one who started the Debs Whatsapp group chat. Media-savvy she is.
Overheard: “I am thrilled to be part of Le Bal. It gives us girls a way to sparkle, and we sure deserve that.”
Ava Philippe, USA
Who is she: The oldest daughter of Oscar winner actress and producer Reese Whiterspoon—who attended the event—and actor Ryan Philippe, Ava was one of the Hollywood princesses to take part in this year’s Bal. She wore a gold Giambattista Valli haute couture ball gown and had an actual royal as cavalier, Maharaja Padmanabh Singh of Jaipur. Not a bad way to make a debut.
Overheard: Not much, sadly. In standard Hollywood protocol, Ava refrained from conceding one-on-one interviews. She was ever so lovely with her fellow debs though—“I can’t wait to see us all together,” she chimed as the girls were getting ready—and incredibly gracious in dealing with everybody’s extra attention, so we’ll forgive her for that.
Lori Harvey, USA
Who is she: Hollywood princess number two, Lori is the daughter of fashion influencer Marjorie Harvey of “The Lady Loves Couture” fame, and stepdaughter of American TV producer, radio host, presenter and comedian Steve Harvey. Based in Los Angeles, Lori has a gazillion Insta followers herself, and is a budding model—you might have spotted her in the most recent D&G shows and campaigns—and an aspiring actress. She wore a black Elie Saab dress that was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.
Overheard: “I’ve always had a lifelong dream of being a debutante, so being here is just an honour. It’s like nothing I’ve ever done. I’m loving every minute of it.”
Helena Alesi, Japan/France
Who is she: Daughter of French F1 driver Jean Alesi and renowned Japanese actress Kumiko Goto. Helena lives in London, where she’s studying film at Met Film School, although she’s planning a temporary move to Japan early next year to pursue a career in entertainment (her social media lead is huge over there). One of the oldest debs—she’s 21—Helena wore a sensuous, figure-fitting piece by Emmanuel Ungaro, which “felt more appropriate for my age, more grown-up, if you wish.” Word. She looked fabulous.
Overheard: “I find the charity aspect of Le Bal particularly important. It’s something I respect a lot. Us girls are still so young, but we are the ones that will have the power to make a change in the future, so supporting events like this is essential. It’s never too early to raise awareness and get involved.”
Cecily Lasnet, UK
Who is she: Daughter of former model Stella Tennant and French photographer David Lasnet. Cecily is 17, and currently in the middle of her university applications. She hopes to study English literature, maybe after a gap year. She wore Chanel—a beautiful, full-skirt flower gown that felt slightly Gatsby-esque.
Overheard: “My mum was a little reluctant to have me attend at first, but once Ophélie invited me I insisted. I just wanted to have a big princess weekend, particularly given that I am a bit of a tomboy and had no clue about dancing up until I had to prepare for this. It’s good to get out of your comfort zone. I am so thrilled.”
Ananya Panday, India
Who is she: Ananya is the daughter of Bollywood actor Chunky Panday, and an aspiring actress herself: she will start shooting her first movie in February, playing the lead role—not bad for a first acting break. While in high school, she created the HERO Project, producing short videos and seminars on topics of the empowerment of women, sexual assault, and Indian social taboos. She looked stunning in an elegant blue gown by Jean Paul Gaultier, who happened to be at his Parisian atelier when she went in for a fitting, and posed with her for quite a few pics. “I can’t believe I actually met him. This Paris trip just got even better,” she said.
Overheard: “I love two things about Le Bal: the great network opportunities it brings, and the fact that I am representing my country here. It feels incredibly special. Also, it’s a good exercise to get used to the limelight, the hair and makeup, the fashion shoots. A life lesson that couldn’t have come at a better time.”
Amina Martinez de Irujo y Casanova, Spain
Who is she: The youngest deb this year, Amina is the daughter of Cayetano Martinez de Irujo and Genoveva Casanova, and the granddaughter of the famed 18th Duchess of Alba, the world's most titled aristocrat and Spain's richest noble. She wore an azure princess garb from Zuhair Murad. “I love it because it’s very appropriate for my age. It’s not revealing.”
Overheard: “I am super shy so I think Le Bal is going to be a great way to do something unexpected for me. I cannot walk in heels for the life of me, nor waltz, but I have been practicing and watching YouTube videos. Plus my brother is my cavalier—my Pygmalion. I’ll be ok.”
See also: Meet Asia's Most Stylish Ladies of 2016
Princesse Natasha d'Arenberg, Belgium
Who is she: The 20-year-old is the daughter of Prince Leopold, Duke d'Arenberg, and Princess Isabelle. She wore a siren-like dress by a designer based in Antwerp, Frederic Luca Landi, and was accompanied by her Portuguese cousin, HRH Dom Alfonso de Bragança.
Overheard: “I am honoured to be part of an important charity event like Le Bal. It feels empowering.”
For more information about Le Bal, visit lebal.events