Inside the 2019 Bal des Débutantes in Paris

Inside the 2019 Bal des Débutantes in Paris

Belles of Le Bal! Inside the exclusive Parisian soiree where the debutante daughters of Jet Li, Julio Iglesias, and Tamara Mellon made glittering society debuts in couture gowns and dazzling diamonds

  • The 26th annual Bal des Débutantes was held at the Shangri-La Hotel in Paris on November 30
  • 20 young women age 16 to 20 made their debuts in designer gowns 
  • Among them were the daughters and granddaughters of actors, magnates, and designers
  • The official jeweler of le Bal, Harakh, lent debutantes a whopping $10 million worth of jewelry
  • Harakh shared details of some of the pieces with 

Society darlings — including daughters of the rich, famous, and royal — came out in their fanciest gowns and priciest borrowed jewels for the 2019 Bal des Débutantes in Paris last weekend.

The event, which was held at the ritzy Shangri-La Hotel in the 16th arrondissement, is in his 26th year, and is known to have some well-known names on the guest list.

This year, Jet Li’s daughter Jane Li, Jimmy Choo cofounder Tamara Mellon’s daughter Araminta Mellon, and Julio Iglesias’ daughters Cristina and Victoria Iglesias were among the debutantes to get all dolled up, dance, and socialize on November 30.

High society: The 26th annual Bal des Débutantes was held at the Shangri-La Hotel in Paris on November 30, and was attended by a number of young socialites from well-to-do families around the world 

Famous offspring: Among the debutantes was Jane Li, the daughter of film star Jet Li, who wore a beautiful burgundy gown for the soiree, which she attended with both of her parents 

Posing for pictures: Jane, a 19-year-old sophomore at Harvard University, poses with her dad (right) and jeweler Harakh Mehta (left), who provided dazzling diamonds for the young women to wear with their couture gowns

Thanks dad: Julio Iglesias’ daughters Cristina and Victoria Iglesias were also among the debs, and each wore a gorgeous watercolor gown by Elie Saab Haute Couture

Ladies: The ball is organized every year by French publicist Ophelie Renouard, and celebrated its 26th year with 2019’s event. Last year the soiree was attended by Forest Whitaker’s daughter True, and HH Princess Ananya Raje Scindia of Gwalior

Glamorous: Shum Yuet (right), the daughter of Hong Kong actress Chingmy Yau, and Princess Maria Carolina de Bourbon des Deux Siciles (left) strike a pose in their gowns

The ball is organized every year by French publicist Ophelie Renouard, who dreamed up the fete in the early 90s.

‘The original idea for the first debutante balls was to bring together young people from the same social background so they could get married,’ she told WWD.

Debutantes typically come with their parents, and are escorted by high society young men, who are called ‘cavaliers.’ 

Supported by private sponsors, the ball raises money for two charities: the Seleni Institute, which supports teen mothers’ reproductive and mental health, and Enfants d’Asie, which promotes the education of girls in Southeast Asia.

But while it certainly helps some worthy causes, it’s ultimately a chance for young, monied women to dress up in fancy ball gowns and parade in front of the cameras with their well-bred escorts. 

This year, among the 20 teens and women age 16 to 20 to make their debut was Jet Li’s daughter Jane Li, 19. 

A sophomore at Harvard University, Jane wore a stunning blush Dior gown for a pre-party photoshoot, and a maroon gown for the big night. 

Kayla Rockefeller, great-granddaughter of U.S. Vice President Nelson Rockefeller and great, great-granddaughter of John Davison Rockefeller Jr.

Araminta Mellon, whose mother is Jimmy Choo cofounder Tamara Mellon, wore a gold strapless high-low dress by Oscar de La Renta.

She was escorted by cavalier H.R.H. Prince Alexander d’Arenberg.

‘I first heard of Le Bal via my cousins on my dad’s side who had all done it,’ she told WWD. ‘My uncle wanted me to carry on the tradition. It was fun because I got to see all the old photos and their dresses.’ 

Proud dad: Jet Li looks on and snaps photos as his daughter enters the room, then goes for a hug

A special moment: The two posed for a few photos together after her entrance

Glitz: Harakh provided a whopping $10 million worth of jewelry for the debutantes, including Josie Yates, whose father is a director and film producer

Strike a pose! Josie poses in a low-light area during the party

Couture: Paris-based Princess Louise d’Orléans poses in her Giambattista Valli gown at the event

Julio Iglesias’ daughters Cristina and Victoria Iglesias, wore gorgeous watercolor numbers by Elie Saab Haute Couture, and were escorted together by their cousin Niccolo. 

Other debutantes included Bollywood star Chinese actress Chingmy Yau’s daughter Shum Yuet, Sanjay Kapoor’s daughter Shanaya Kapoor, French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo’s daughter Stella Belmondo, and several French and Italian princesses. 

There were also Lavinia Webster, whose father worked for Bill Clinton; Josie Yates, the daughter of a director and a film produce; Alexia de Poligny, daughter of the Count and Countess of Poligny; Victoria Liao from China; Rocio Zobel from the Philippines; Countess Tatiana Mouravieff-Apostol from Russia; Asuka Ikenobo from Japan; Yuet Sham from Hong Kong; Athina Manou from Greece; H.R.H. Princess Maria Carolina de Bourbon des Deux Siciles from Italy, and Phoebe Fraser, granddaughter of writer Lady Antonia Fraser, from the United Kingdom.

The ball is known for attracting celebrity offspring, and in past years has included Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe’s daughter Ava Phillippe, Sylvester Stallone’s daughter Sophia Rose Stallone, Andie MacDowell’s daughter Margaret Qualley, and Bruce Willis and Demi Moore’s daughter Tallulah Willis. 

Besides donning dresses by top couture designers, the young ladies all get the privileged of borrowing pricey jewels for the night. 

Got a hot date? Shum Yuet showed off some leg thanks to the high front hem of her feathered gown as she walked in with her cavalier while the guests clapped and snapped photos

Manners: Shum Yuet gets a kiss on her hand from her cavalier

Good causes: Supported by private sponsors, the ball raises money for two charities

This year, the official jeweler of le Bal was Harakh. Founder Harakh Mehta provided a whopping $10 million worth of jewelry for the event. 

He custom-designed several pieces for Jane Li, including a necklace, earrings, and a ring featuring the designer’s  ‘drop of joy’ motif.

The necklace alone — which was made with 29.32 total carats of diamonds — has a value of $199,000. 

Her ear cuffs have a total of 3.86 carats of diamonds and are valued at $31,000, while the pave pink diamond ring she wore cost $12,000 — bringing the grand total of her jewels of to $242,000.

‘Harakh Mehta has a profound understanding of jewelry and its space,’ Jane said in a statement. 

‘Working with him to create custom jewelry for le Bal was a dream — each piece was so intricately and thoughtfully crafted. I am very touched by Harak’s ability to bring my stories to life and combine meaning with generations of craftsmanship.  

Some sparkle: Jane Li poses in her custom-designed necklace, earrings, and ring

Pricey: The necklace alone — which was made with 29.32 total carats of diamonds — has a value of $199,000

More debs: French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo’s daughter Stella Belmondo poses with jeweler Harakh; last year Jean-Paul’s grandson Giacomo served as a cavalier at the event

Getting ready: Another debutante adds some bling ahead of the ball

Ready to go: Countess Tatiana Mouravieff-Apostol puts on her earrings ahead of the party

‘I could not be happier to wear jewelry so authentic to me and my values to le Bal.’ 

Chic: Athina Manou from Greece wore $26,000 diamond earrings and a set of rings totaling $53,000 

Meanwhile, Countess Tatiana Mouravieff-Apostol wore a necklace from the designer’s Peacock Collection, which was set with 33.17 carats of diamonds in 18k white gold — which cost $260,000.

Her earrings, 18k white gold hoops with 7.81 carats of diamonds, costs $43,000. 

Princess Louise of Orleans wore jewels that were nearly as pricey, blinging out her look with an 18k yellow and white gold tiara. The tiara had 29.92 carats of diamond and a retail value of $187,000 — which is in addition to the $22,000 18kt white gold diamond stud earrings. 

Athina Manou from Greece wore $26,000 diamond earrings and a set of rings totaling $53,000. 

Yuet Sham’s $40,000 earrings, $22,000 ring, and $49,000 bangle had a total of 22.56 carats of diamonds. 

But the most expensively blinged-out deb of them all was Shanaya Kapoor, whose jewelry totaled $402,000.

The pieces included raindrop earrings with 17.72 carats of diamonds in a platinum setting, a raindrop band with 3.45 carats of diamonds, and a cuff — which, set with 23.86 carats of diamonds, is valued at $213,000.

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