Greetings my friends!
|The Chevalier Robyn in full costume. This costume was created specifically for the
ball by my friend and tailor Aurelie LeBlanc
(firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to hire her for your own costume).
Welcome back to a rare edition of my Paris blog. Fate and circumstance have kept me, your humble blogger and observer of Paris, away from the keyboard for far too long. I have a great post in store for you however and as you can guess from the main picture, I've been back to the Chateau de Versailles for another of their famous masked balls. (http://www.chateauversailles.fr/homepage)
As I reported last year, I had thought that this particular ball was a one-time-only event, but it seems that they have done it a second time. Will it be annual? I hope so and I will start preparing now! I learned of this ball a couple of months in advance and there was a lot of planning to do for me, since I wanted every aspect of the ball to be as special and memorable as possible.
My observations and preparations went something like this:
1. My Costume. With two months to prepare, I first thought to make myself look as aristocratic as possible for the ball. Versailles is a very special location and I would not want to be under-dressed for an event there. There are three basic choices for this kind of an event; 1) to rent an expensive and very good looking costume, 2) to buy a cheap and awful looking costume or 3) to have an awesome looking costume made for you. This year I chose 3... the best decision of my life.
|Aurelie LeBlanc measures my majestic arms for the sleeves
for this currently sleeveless jacket. In later phases, the
jacket receives sleeves, embroidery, buttons and a lot of
other necessary details.
|The first of my princesses, a Parisian resident by way of
North Africa tries on a few dresses at Académie du Bal
Costumé at 22 Avenue Ledru Rollins. I have been to
this shop many times for many costumes since moving
|My second princess to dress is also a Parisin resident, but
of Caribbean origin. This was one of many dresses she
tried on for the ball.
|This beautiful blonde-haired princess came all the way
from Hawaii to take in the ball. Having arrived in
Paris a little late we found my favourite costume shop
picked clean. Thankfully, La Vestiere (at 107 Avenue
Daumesnil) http://www.lesitelevestiaire.com/ was
well stocked and saved the day for us.
|The 4th princess to be dressed, a Parisian of Russian origin,
poses in her beautiful and complex multi-part garment consisting
of a large skirt, over-skirt, bodice, jacket, train and matching hat. I
found the magical seamstress at etsy.com on her online shop here:
5. Dressing. Dressing seven princesses for a ball is both exciting and challenging. I decided to hold a "dressing party" about 3 hours before the ball and provided a delicious rose champagne and hors d'ouvres for the princesses to get them in the mood for a long night of partying.
|I have many photos, perhaps some not suitable for public
viewing, but this captures some of the wonder and
excitement of it all. By this time, we are all dressed and
preparing to evacuate my apartment for the limousine
ride to Versailles!
|My dates. Your humble narrator takes a photo of his seven dates for the ball, each from a different country and
background and each as beautiful as the next. I am truly the luckiest Chevalier in the world.
|The most common anachronism of the evening? The cell-phone camera of course. Mine was at the ready all night.
7. The Chateau. Versailles is perhaps the most magnificent castle ever built for a reigning monarch. Daily tours are offered to the public that take you through the famous Hall of Mirrors and the various rooms named after Roman deities. The masked ball was held in the Orangerie, a gigantic hall surrounding an orange tree garden (in which the orange trees are planted in boxes).
For us, the party began at the large pool directly in front of the castle. After posing for a few shots there, we walked down to the gardens for a light show, followed by fireworks and music with the Grand Canal as a backdrop. Everything was spectacular.
|My two most contrasting princesses pose near the main
pool in front of the Chateau de Versailles.
|I steal a glance from my Princess in White as the skies
light up with fireworks.
|My Princess in White climbs the stairs to observe the hundreds of costumes
on display in front of the Chateau.
|A party-goer gets a mask adjustment from one of her many attendants.
9. The Setting. Looking toward the Chateau, the Orangerie is to the right and down. The paths were circled by tubs full of candles. The exterior walls were bathed in coloured lights. Party goers were herded down a long flight of stairs to the garden entrance into a foyer, where they were set loose on the party within.
|A top view of the Orangerie.
|Party-goers navigate the long flight of stairs while stopping to take
pictures of others.
|A male go-go dancer rocks out on a pedestal.
|This dancer pictured here is nearly nude, having recently
performed a burlesque act on the main stage. Her act was
none the less exotic, while bathed in the reddish
projections from behind her.
|A chef displays his fondue creation, which was quickly devoured by
|Princesses taking a break from dancing.
|A princess and her admirer conspire in the red light of the VIP section.
|My Pink Princess parties in the garden and poses in front of the outdoor
candle holders. Everything looks exotic in candlelight.
|A go-go dancer in repose. Tired from a long night.
|Loading the last of the princesses into the limousine for the ride home.
This photo was expertly snapped by our chauffeur
12. The Ride Home. The party ended for us around 5am. The limousine driver pulled up to rescue us all from what would certainly have been a stranding without him. There are few taxis in Versailles at this hour... or perhaps none at all. I dutifully loaded up all the princesses and took them back to my Palias in the city. Everyone declared the party the 'best party ever' and there was no evidence to disagree.
I can't wait 'til next year!
Thanks for reading.
Your friend and humble Chevalier,