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Cloak and Swagger
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Shefalee Vasudev Tags : Hotel Crillon, Shaiyra Devi, designer Ritu Beri Posted: Wed Nov 23 2011, 03:04 hrs
The opening of the 2009 ball; Adishree Singh wearing Ritu Beri; Shaiyra Devi; Princess Anne Helene in Dior Couture
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A globally sought-after fashion event, the annual Le Bal at Hotel Crillon in Paris, on November 26, will have two Indian debutantes — Shaiyra Devi, granddaughter of the Maharaja of

Kapurthala, and Leana Mallya, daughter of Vijay Mallya, the King of what were till now good times.

A heavily embargoed event, the Crillon “deb ball” as it is known, was started in 1991 by Ophélie Renouard, who runs OR Communications, a PR firm. She first coined it ‘Le Bal De La Haute Couture’. Only later, it came to be known as Le Bal de Crillon, now recognised as one of Europe’s most important fashion events. It’s a jet set ball for which invitations are sent to the most influential, rich and powerful industrialists all over the world as well as royal and political families, to send their daughters and relatives to participate. The ball raises funds for global charity. Ashley Bush, niece of former US President George W. Bush, was a debutante participant here some years back. Designers who dress up the debutantes do so only on an exclusive invitation from Renouard. The first Indian to participate here was Princess Adishree Singh from the royal family of Jammu and Kashmir. She was dressed by designer Ritu Beri in 1995.

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This year, Delhi-based designer pair Hemant Sagar and Didier Lecoanet, have been invited to dress Shaiyra Devi for the event. Formerly based in Paris, the designers were members of Chambre Syndicale de la haute couture and dressed a debutante every year for the ball for ten years, from 1991 to 1999. “We are now participating after a decade, on Ophelie’s invite,” says Sagar, in Paris for the event. “Our clothes for Shaiyra are of Indian inspiration,” is all he will admit for now. Nineteen-year-old Shaiyra Devi authored Diamonds and Daggers, a book of poetry, when she was 12. She is currently a student in the US. “She is young and lovely and has no insecurities about being in designer labels to look good,” says her mother, Priti Devi, reluctant to reveal anything else about her daughter. Whereas the other Indian participant, Leana Mallya, “will be dressed in Dior Couture,” confirmed Kalyani Saha, VP, Marketing and Communications, Dior India.

A much planned event, Le Bal Crillon uses a mix of personalities, products and places to create promotional platforms for jewellers, hotels, merchandise and designers. Then labels it “exclusive”. This year, reportedly, there is an agreement between Vijay Mallya and Vogue India for an exclusive fashion shoot of Leana Mallya in Dior Couture, to be shot in Paris. News is that Mallya was approached by Le Bal Crillon almost two years back for his daughter’s participation and it is only now that it has all come to fruition. A fascinating cloak and swagger game.


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