There are few rooms in the world where a proficiency with the waltz is required for entry, but such is the situation at the Shangri-La Paris. At least for one evening, in which the hotel’s grand ballroom is transformed into le Bal des Débutantes.

An important moment on the social calendar since its founding, by power publicist Ophélie Renouard in 1994, the annual by-invitation-only affair ushers some of the most high-profile young women in the world (often the daughters of notables from the arts, government, and finance) into the social set. Its debutantes have included Delphine Arnault, Lauren Bush, Lily Collins, and many more, all handpicked by Renouard. Its objective is to raise money for charity—this year, the beneficiaries were chef José Andrés’s World Central Kitchen and the Necker hospital, in Paris.

After a pandemic-induced hiatus, le Bal returned on November 26, 2022, at seven p.m. sharp, when around 300 guests ascended the marble staircase at the Shangri-La and sat down for a seated dinner of vitello tonnato and grilled sea bass. Each debutante wove her way through the tables to kick off the festivities, and each was accompanied by a cavalier in white-tie. These young men can be a brother, relative, or friend of the debutante’s choosing, but often those who are traveling from abroad rely on Renouard to select one.

Debutantes: Left, from top, Wenhao Cai, in Iris van Herpen haute couture; Leah Behn, in Giambattista Valli haute couture; Annabel Zimmer, in Gaultier Paris; Bristol Fales-Hill, in Stéphane Rolland haute couture; Aruzhan Bimurzina, in Chanel haute couture; Ondine Peck-Voll, in Elie Saab haute couture. Center, from top, H.I.R.H. Archduchess Sophia von Habsburg-Lothringen, in Franck Sorbier haute couture; Countess Olimpia Rimbotti, in Stefan Djokovich; Teale Burrell, in Fovari; Natasha Connery, in Alexis Mabille haute couture. Right, Eleanor Ford Uzielli, in Oscar de la Renta. Cavaliers, from left: H.S.H. Prince Alexandre d’Arenberg; H.H. Maharaja Lakshraj Prakash of Sirmour; Harper Peck; Archie Campbell, the Marquess of Lorne; Ignacio de Borbón.

Bristol Fales-Hill, a Harvard student who speaks fluent French (and is the daughter of television producer Susan Fales-Hill), wore a gown by Stéphane Rolland and had diamonds pinned into her chignon. The composer Hans Zimmer arrived with his daughter Annabel, whose tight Gaultier gown was a subject of much fascination. Ondine Peck-Voll represented Elie Saab, one of the deb’s favorite designers; her brother, Harper, accompanied Natasha Connery (step-granddaughter of Sean).

Princess Märtha Louise of Norway brought her daughter Leah Behn, who was accompanied by the dashing Maharaja of Sirmour. The New York–based Wenhao Cai, the daughter of Chinese-American superstar artist Cai Guo-Qiang, wore a striking gown by Iris van Herpen. Film producer Alessandro Uzielli attended alongside his daughter Eleanor Ford Uzielli, who wore Oscar de la Renta.

This year, the soirée was filmed by a crew directed by Lisa Immordino Vreeland, the granddaughter-in-law of Vogue editor Diana Vreeland. There is talk of a documentary that may be released later this year. As le Bal drew to a close, some debutantes enjoyed a final waltz with their fathers to Strauss’s “The Blue Danube.” Others, meanwhile, organized a late-night trip to L’Arc nightclub, where the affair was rehashed and remembered. As if anyone will ever forget it.

Ashley Baker is a Deputy Editor for Air Mail