The Rose Ball is a prestigious annual ball at the pinnacle of the social calendar which is held in Monaco by the princely family and marks the onset of Spring. It has a deeply rooted history going back to the 50s. Grace Kelly, who lived her own fairy tale romance to become the Princess of Monaco, had the idea to create this enchanting springtime ball. The first Ball de la Rose was held in 1954, after her marriage to Prince Rainier III of Monaco. Every year, Princess Grace was personally involved in the event’s preparation. The choice of roses as a main detail of the decoration was not random, as roses were the favourite flowers of Monaco’s beloved Princess.
Princess Grace went against the trend for the exotic, choosing instead elegance and romance, waltzes, violins and, of course, thousands upon thousands of roses. In later years the Bal de la Rose has embraced all kinds of dance and music, such as the ballet, the Charleston, Tango and more recently, jazz too.
It was in 1975 the Bal de la Rose, under the patronage of the late Princess Grace, became a charity event. All proceeds now go to the Princess Grace Foundation, created to help children in hospitals and provide accommodation for their parents, as well as assisting students who aspire to work in the field of arts and culture.
No traditional concert this year, but a unique show provided by thirty dancers and six singers. There was still dancing of course; not “dancing in the rain” but dancing on the dance-floor mural of the Monte Carlo Beach pool instead. For music, Roberto Colletta presented a repertoire of crooners, the group of Red Bouches who revisited “the great standards of the roaring twenties”. An Italian rock accent was provided by Alessandra Ristori and his musicians the Portofinos.
For several years Karl Lagerfeld was the designer of the event. Last year he was again invited to design the Ball, his fifth time to accept the honour from Princess Caroline. And this 2019 Ball will feature a remembrance to him since he passed away this February 19th. The theme of this year’s event will still indeed be the one chosen by the legendary designer before his passing on February 19.
He had found friendship with Princess Caroline and the Princely family, peace and perhaps even a sanctuary. And the Bal de la Rose was the perfect creative challenge, first in 1999 at the request of Prince Rainier. Later from 2013 with Princess Caroline as a trusted “protectrice” and confidante Karl lent his presence, his support, his artistic direction and often illustrations drawn with his own hand for invitations. So it was fitting that Karl Lagerfeld’s last high-profile public appearance on earth was at the 2018 Bal de la Rose and that this year’s 2019 Bal, the 65th Edition, was in his remembrance.
Karl had imagined last year’s theme of Manhattan with Princess Caroline and that of the Viennese Secession in the 2017 Ball. And he imagined before passing away transforming the 2019 Bal de la Rose at the Summer Sporting into a Riviera scene from the 50s. “I’m very much down to earth, just not of this earth,” he had said once but no one would disagree his presence will still always be around the Riviera, Monaco and Bal de la Rose.
The Riviera Scene Of The 50s
The glitz and glamour of the Riviera were recreated for 2019 as Monaco’s Royals paid tribute to Lagerfeld’s creative genius including icons of the Principality’s international fame: the beach of Monte Carlo Beach, the famous bridge to the swimming pool and the Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo. The eternal legend unravelled its charm in scenery from Karl’s imagination. All the thrills, all the elegance, all the warmth of life from the Riviera were then recreated by illustrator and graphic designer Mr. Z.
The evening’s celebrities posed in front of these colourful scenes of dolce vita and the undulating rhythms of the 50s. Landscapes bathed in light from a journey in time including a luminous green roadster in front of a reproduction of the legendary Hotel de Paris in Monaco.
The event featured a huge dance floor displaying like a gigantic mural the image of a woman emerging from a swimming pool, still a supreme feature at Monte-Carlo Beach and permeating the ball’s Hall of Stars.
Decor for the event is always pure and noble with delightfully intricate table arrangements designed by the Kaiser. On this sad yet also joyful occasion the tables featured tiny replicas of famous buildings on the Riviera.
A Glimpse Of The Royals
Of course all eyes were on Prince Albert who escorted his sister Princess Caroline, President of the soirée who was surrounded by her four children Pierre Casiraghi with his wife Beatrice Borromeo, Andrea Casiraghi at the side of his wife Tatiana Santo Domingo, and the young princess Alexandra de Hanovre and Charlotte Casiraghi who stunned in sequin bustier top.
Everyone of the 900 to 1000 guests wanted to be seated close to the Royals. And there was a waiting list for a lapsed invitation that VIPs, stars and celebrities would have died for.
Famous Royal watcher and impresario Stéphane Bern was right in the midst picking up on the nuances of the notable Royal news of the evening including the first official appearance alongside the princely family of Carole Bouquet, the mother of Charlotte Casiraghi’s fiancé and film director Dimitri Rassam. A great joy for the young princess Charlotte who was lucky to be surrounded by the two grand dames of her son Balthazar by Dimitri. The beautiful Charlotte, wearing a strapless Saint Laurent, had chosen to chevalure-wave her hair, like her mother-in-law. Carole Bouquet turned heads in a sensational Alexis Mabille dress. She is the famous French actress and star of Trop belle pour toi and has a “James Bond” link to the Principality being the famous Bond Girl from “For Your Eyes Only”.
Stéphane Bern overcome with emotion is quoted: “certainly the show must go on. But we will never forget you. Merci, Karl”.
Caroline, the Princess of Hanover is the eldest daughter of Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace of Monaco. She paid a fine tribute to her mother, wearing an elegant pearl necklace that had belonged to Princess Grace, a wedding present to Grace from Prince Rainier. There is a beautiful story reported about it that before the wedding, in January 1956, Prince Rainier had bought it secretly in a Van Cleef & Arpels’ shop in New York together with a ring, a pair of earrings and a bracelet. Pierre Casiraghi and his wife Countess Beatrice Borromeo were radiant in their glamour. Countess Beatrice wore a stunning sequined dress, a Dior pink powder glittering gown accompanied with long satin gloves. The couple gazed lovingly at each other as they arrived at the event. Andrea Casiraghi, posed with his wife Tatiana Santo Domingo, who wore a red dress signed Giambattisa Valli. Princess Alexandra of Hanover, 19, posed with her brothers and sister and her mother, in a beautiful sequined dress of the Lebanese designer Sandra Mansour.
Bal de la Rose 2019 was a heavenly royal affair in more ways than one. “The Show Certainly Did Go On” in memory of Karl Lagerfeld. Princess Caroline and all the Monaco Royals together with Prince Albert made the 2019 Ball a very special one indeed.