25 September, 2009

Unisex?

A Very Stylish Girl

The Cuevas Ball

The post-war 1950's were a golden age in the history of the grand parties and soon after the Venetian ball - who some refer as Le Bal du Siècle - given by Charlie Beistegui un 1951, Marquis George de Cuevas turned World's attention by setting his own lavish and flamboyant party. 4000 people were invited, 2800 accepted! Le Bal Cuevas was held in 1953 in Biarritz and at the time France was paralyzed by a general strike who afflicted planes and trains. The tout-le-monde: royals, celebrities and millionaires descending like migrating birds from all the Europe and Americas with their couturier-designed Grand Siècle costumes attracted enormous curiosity amongst the media who called the pharaonic numbers of the event an outrageous lapse of taste.
Detraction was severe from the beggining: In the words of Baron Alexis de Redé "The Marquis d'Arcangue, who considered himself the King of Biarritz, fostered a particular resentment against Cuevas, and in a fit of jealousy, sent out fifty telegrams saying the ball would not take place due to the sudden illness of the host". Even the Vatican would observe in an article in Osservatore Romano that "Parties such as the one in Biarritz are insults to the misery and the 'defis' of the suffering populace".Even so the hostile publicity did not abate and everyone came. Grandious entrances were made and costumes were fantastic. People spent most of the evening just staring at each other. Elsa Maxwell who went to both Beistegui and Cuevas parties said of the ball in Biarritz " There were more people of authentic character (although) you can't outshine a Venetian palace or people arriving in gondolas". The Duchess of Argyll, on the arm of the duke, who would later divorce her in messiest divorce in the history of British society, came dressed as an angel.Ann Woodward, of the New York Woodwards, slapped a woman she thought was dancing too often with her husband, William, whom she was to shoot and kill two years later. King Peter of Yugoslavia waltzed with a diamond-tiara’d Merle Oberon. And at the center of it all looking most imperious as the King ofNature, was the host, in gold lamé with a headdress of grapes and towering ostrich plumes, attended by Count Charles de Ganay, Princess Marella Caracciolo, Bessie Cuevas and Hubert Faure as the Four Seasons.
In her best style, Margaret de Cuevas whose costume were specially designed by Pierre Balmain, who had paid her the honor of coming to her for fittings, did not appear at the ball, she simply disappeared that night, and the party went on without her. It is said that she sent her maid to the ball dressed in her Balmain costume. Le Bal Cuevas went until the morning and when it was over made the front cover of Life Magazine. Glory to the host.
Diogo Mayo, September 2009

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