Nov 28, 2011
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Bruce Willis, Andie MacDowell daughters star at Paris ball

Nov 28, 2011

PARIS - Tallulah Willis, the youngest daughter of actors Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, stepped out as the teen star of the Debutantes Ball in Paris Saturday, alongside Andie MacDowell's youngest, Margaret Qualley.

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Held each year at the Crillon Hotel on Paris' Place de la Concorde, the ball is a highlight of Europe's high-society calendar that updates a custom stretching back to the royal courts of France and England.

Clad in sumptuous designer gowns, Qualley and Willis, both just 17, were among the youngest of the 23 girls making their debut, daughters of a global elite of actors, business leaders and aristocrats.

Both of the girls' elder sisters made their debuts at the ball in past years.

Tallulah stepped out in a black silk Lanvin dress, its bustier adorned with crystal and rhinestones, created specially by designer Alber Elbaz, who she described as "a very dear friend."

Margaret, a trained dancer and model, was draped in a gem-encrusted, chocolate brown Elie Saab gown.

Andie MacDowell told AFP her daughter, who spent part of the summer training with Paris opera dancers, hoped to move to the French capital next year to start modelling there.

"Everything starts here, fashion-wise," said the actress, whose own career took off while she was modelling in Paris in the late 1970s.

"I fit in better in Paris -- they didn't know what to do with me in New York," she said.

Asked how she felt to be sending her youngest daughter out into the world, MacDowell admitted it was "a little stressful, and a little sad."

"I'm not used to her going out late," she said. "But she's going to go out."

When the dancing is done, the debutantes traditionally trade gowns for a pair of jeans and head out clubbing, with their cavaliers as de facto chaperones.

In centuries past, the daughters of Europe's aristocracy were presented to the Queen after leaving the convent on their 18th birthday.

France's modern ball was launched in 1957 and held up until the student uprising of May 1968. Revived 20 years ago as a charity fundraiser, the ball's proceeds will this year go to the Feed Foundation of Lauren Bush -- who made her own debut there in 2000.

Past debutantes include the daughters of actors Forest Whittaker, Clint Eastwood, the blockbuster author Daniele Steel or car tycoon Carlos Ghosn -- and the granddaughters of ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

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