10 Exclusive High Society Galas Around The World
Besides grand commemorative parties like birthdays, anniversaries and baby showers, the upper echelon of society look forward with great anticipation to a host of events, among them European aristocratic balls, high fashion parties in various fashion capitals and charitable benefits. We take you behind the velvet rope for a glimpse of 10 iconic ones.
1/10 Queen Charlotte's Ball, United Kingdom
To this day, Britain’s time-honed Queen Charlotte’s Ball stays true to its 200-year heritage of launching well-bred young debutantes to upper society. The ball was established as a fundraiser by King George III, which he named after his wife, Queen Charlotte.
The coming-of-age party for 17- and 18-year-old bachelorettes featured Malaysian twins Rachel and Michelle Yeoh in 2015, and is an honourable stepping stone for wealthy girls, presented by their fathers. The event hosted by The London Season still retains its charitable core, aside from the pomp of dance, fine dining, champagne, and a cake-cutting ceremony.
2/10 Le Bal Des Débutantes, France
Touted as the world’s most high profile debutante ball, Le Bal des Débutantes brings together 20 of the world’s most sophisticated young women from some of the wealthiest families. Launched in 1994, Le Bal was the modern version of conventional debutante balls, necessitating women to not only be wealthy philanthropists but also as highly-educated as they are fashion-forward. As such, Le Bal is a carnival of couture, with all eyes on the designers and their spectacular ball gowns.
Hong Kong fashionista and Assistant Vice President of Media Asia, Eleanor Lam, was presented at Le Bal des Débutantes in 2014. In 2017 the youngest daughter of tycoon Stanley Ho, Alice Ho, was presented and just last year, 21-year-old Annabel Yao, daughter of Huawei founder, Ren Zhengfei, and Yao Ling, was also a Le Bal debutante and even performed the opening waltz at the prestigious event.
3/10 The Caudwell Children Butterfly Ball, United Kingdom
London is never short of charity galas, but none can quite live up to the glitz of The Butterfly Ball, an annual affair organised by Caudwell Children. Every year, 100 per cent of funds (which regularly hits an excess of £1.5 million (HK$15 million) go towards improving the lives of disabled children across the UK, in a flagship event endorsed by celebrities and captains of industry.
The charity auction features delectable cuisine, world-class entertainment and elegant black-tie attire, orchestrated at a grand scale for the welfare of children.
4/10 Met Gala, USA
The fashion world’s biggest night out, the Costume Institute Met Gala at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is also the biggest fundraiser in the industry. The profit launched in 1948 for affluent New Yorkers, but has today grown into a spectacular affair of fashion, film and art to raise money as part of an opening ceremony for its latest exhibition.
The central attraction of the gala is undeniably the dramatic outfits which annually observe the theme of the new exhibition. It's an amazing opportunity for designers and celebrities to show and tell.
See also: Best Dressed At The 2019 Met Gala
5/10 Bal De La Rose, Monaco
In Monaco, the Bal de la Rose, or Rose Ball, is the pinnacle of the upper crust's annual calendar. The prestigious affair is hosted by Monaco’s royal family and carries on a tradition set by Grace Kelly in 1954. Over the years, the ball has evolved into a worldwide spectacle, in most part due to its high profile designer collaborator, the late Karl Lagerfeld, whose visionary themes steered the event’s evolution.
Among tables adorned with bouquets of roses, guests revel in modern, energetic dance moves that reflect the glitzy and glamorous spirit of Monaco.
6/10 Royal Ascot, United Kingdom
Kicking off Britain’s summer sporting and social calendar, the Royal Ascot evokes refinement: heritage, millinery and sartorial pageantry, fine dining, and at its core, thoroughbred horse racing. The five-day event is marked with an opening day by the Queen of England, who leads the Royal Procession at 2pm.
Champagne and lobster rolls are a typical nosh for well-heeled attendees as they mingle in bars and betting stations.
7/10 Hofburg Silvesterball, Austria
The Hofburg Silvesterball is like a scene out of a movie: Think waltzing into a palace to the sounds of Viennese opera sounds, an unobstructed view of fireworks at midnight, and first-class dinner served on pristine porcelain. Entering its 50th anniversary this year, the Hofburg New Year’s Eve Ball promises a high-calibre itinerary that will wow its glamorous guests with its opera ballet, waltz performances, and the ever popular public dancing quadrille.
8/10 American Foundation For Aids Research (amfAR) Gala, France
To date, the amfAR Gala in Cannes has raised more than US$235 million (HK$1.8 billion) for a string of live-saving research programmes to fight the disease. The black tie event is also carried out in uninhibited style, with a celebrity-loaded red carpet, a fashion show curated by Carine Roitfeld, a rousing live auction, and dazzling entertainment by chart-topping musicians and singers.
The evening of revelry culminates in an exclusive afterparty made up of A-listers celebrating the benefit’s success.
9/10 Vienna Opera Ball, Austria
The call for “Let the waltz begin!” best describes the Vienna Opera Ball that takes place at the Wiener Staatsoper. Opera singers and ballet stars delight some 5,000 dignified guests from business, culture, politics, sports and academia, along with the anticipated appearance of 150 handpicked couples who perform the first polonaise of the evening.
Styled as the ‘ball of all balls, much-copied around the world’, this dazzling do pulls in an estimated viewership of millions worldwide, keen for a glimpse of how high society party while conforming to the strictest formal conduct.
10/10 Il Ballo Del Doge, Italy
No line-up of grand parties is complete without mentioning the Venice Carnival’s highlight event, the Il Ballo del Doge. The symbolic masquerade party founded by iconic Venetian costume designer Antonia Sautter attracts eclectic names from around the world ranging from rock stars to politicians.
The experience takes place in the landmark Palazzo Pisani Moretta by the Grand Canal, decorated in Antonia's otherworldly set designs, building a stage for guests in full period costume and masks to savour stunning artistic performances ranging from acrobatics to dance.
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