If you hear someone announcing that their teenage daughter is "coming out" at the end of the month, you might want to look impressed rather than inquire if it might be just a phase. At the annual Crillon Ball in Paris, 24 girls from all over the world will be trussed up in haute couture and "presented" to society on the arm of a dashing escort chosen for them by the event's organizer Ophélie Renouard. Strictly invitation only, the ball has in past years included lucky debutantes like Amanda Hearst, Lauren Bush, Victoria and Vanessa Traina, and Bee Shaffer—whose mom, Vogue editor Anna Wintour, Renouard remembers fondly.
"Anna was a positive experience for me. I'm bad with people who are conniving, but I'm not bad with people who are upfront. I think that, beneath the surface, she's very shy. I know she's detested by many people, but she's had the same team working for her in the magazine's Paris bureau for 20 years—lovely people—and there must be a reason for that. She was very controlled and should have listened to me more, but I learned a lot from her. For instance, she pointed out that the girls and their escorts should be matched according to height. I hadn't thought of that."
So how does Renouard pick the girls? Well, first of all, no fatties: You need to be able to fit into the sample sizes lent by the likes of Chanel and Dior. And no spoiled brats: "If they are the daughters of megastars, we treat them just like any other kids." Otherwise, you just need incredibly rich parents and a desire to act like the past 200 years haven't happened.