Hollywood in the credits of the Debutantes Ball

They are destined for the cinema but, by their birth, they already belong to its legend. One has Sean Connery for grandfather, the other two, Gregory Peck. On November 26, Natasha, 21, and Ondine, 20, will be among the 18 “beginners” of the unmissable Parisian evening. The two dynasties are already united: Harper
Peck, 23, Ondine’s brother, will serve as Natasha’s knight, “the wife of [sa] life”. A couple blood for star blood.

Do young girls today still dream of the debutante ball? Perhaps not in the version of King George III… But much more in the version imagined by Ophélie Renouard who, in the early 1990s, managed to revive the event to make it a must. The long immaculate gloves may no longer be de rigueur, under the chandeliers of the Shangri-La hotel, one of the partners of the evening with the jeweler V Muse and the hairdresser Alexander von Trentini, elegance is always in order. .

It is even the key word for this Bal – with a capital “B” please. Admittedly, to make their “entry into the world”, well-born young girls – crowned heads, heiresses of industrial empires or offspring of celebrities – have social networks. But nothing like it to exhale a Grand Siècle perfume. They are eighteen beginners invited this year. Among them, Princess Hélène of Orléans, Countess Lara Henckel von Donnersmarck or Princess Inayat of Patiala. The Hollywood aristocracy has not been forgotten. Thus Natasha Connery, 21, the granddaughter of Sir Sean, the unforgettable James Bond. We find her at number 34 of the Vivienne gallery, in the heart of the Paris of Napoleon III, at Alexis Mabille, her designer.

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A certain taste for fashion

Between the vaporous tulles and the divine bustiers, Natasha does not know where to turn. From her ancestor, once considered one of the most elegant men in the United Kingdom, she obviously inherited a certain taste for fashion. Sean Connery passed away just two years ago and she speaks with emotion of this “wonderful grandfather”: “We were very close. He has always been very present for me. We played a lot of football, it was both our thing. In any case, it is not with this bright green sheath, which gives her the air of a little mermaid, or with this sun-colored dress which underlines her pretty tanned complexion that she risks starting a game… Le Bal imposes its dress code: evening dress and list of designers. That’s good, all want to be the most beautiful. It is also necessary to avoid the total black or white look “so as not to have a monochrome group photo”, we are told. Natasha would however like to fall for a very starlet black dress. She looks for the opinion of her boyfriend invited to this fitting session. “You are superb in all of them,” he replies, without giving her any help.

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He is Harper Peck, 23, grandson of a giant of the 7th art, Gregory Peck, the charming journalist of “Roman Holidays”, the glorious captain of the “Canons of Navarone”. One of the last big names from the Golden Age. They have in common the stature – Harper measures 1.93 meters –, a natural chic, and the sense of discretion, modest smile and good manners, strange virtue for who wants to make a great career. “I was only 4 years old when he disappeared, I don’t have a lot of memories. But I read a lot of things and I’m very proud of him,” he says.

A thunderbolt

He knows that he owes his first name to the author of the novel that inspired one of his most famous films: “Of Silence and Shadows”, by Robert Mulligan is adapted from the novel “Do not shoot the bird Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. “A very close friend of our family,” says Cecilia Peck, her mother. Harper and Natasha met just over a year ago at a Halloween party thrown by a mutual friend. He was disguised as a cowboy, she as Mia Wallace, the incendiary Uma Thurman of “Pulp Fiction”.

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Jacques Chirac was Harper’s godfather

They did not leave the evening. “What’s crazy is that, five years earlier, we had studied two months in the same school in Switzerland, specifies Harper. But we didn’t keep in touch.” This time, they remembered the next day: “And the following week, it was already the great love”, continues the young man. Since then, they have lived together in an apartment in New York, with their dog, Nala. A thunderbolt that recalls another: that of Gregory Peck for the one whose life he shared for half a century, the Frenchwoman Véronique Passani. In 1953, she started at “France-Soir” when her perfect English made her designate to interview the American star passing through Paris before joining Rome, where he toured with Audrey Hepburn. The interview continues until late in the evening with a walk on the banks of the Seine. A few weeks later, they meet for dinner. Gregory Peck, then in the process of divorce with a Finnish hairdresser, does not take long to ask Véronique in marriage. “The beginning of a real fairy tale,” says their daughter, Cecilia, who, although she has always lived in the United States, remains very attached to her French roots. Moreover, in 2000, she chose as godfather for her son… a French president, Jacques Chirac. “He was very good friends with Véronique and Gregory, and my father had promised him that he would be Harper’s godfather.” At the baptism, celebrated in the church of Saint-Ferdinand des Ternes, in Paris, Line Renaud, another close friend of the Pecks, was present. “I also remember a dinner at the Élysée. There was Jacques, Bernadette, Claude Chirac and his son Martin, but also Line. It was not at all formal, on the contrary, the atmosphere was very family. The Peck clan will be back in Paris at the end of November for the Bal.

Ondine is not a pianist, but she composes songs.  With Cecilia, his mother, a Franco-American, under the gaze of the hero of “Roman Holidays”.

Ondine is not a pianist, but she composes songs. With Cecilia, his mother, a Franco-American, under the gaze of the hero of “Roman Holidays”.

© Olivier Borde/Bestimage

Ondine, Cecilia’s youngest daughter, is also one of the beginners. “I am so happy that she is participating in it, confides her mother. It is a very special time when young people can meet and become friends. But above all, we must not forget, it is an evening of charity which defends very noble causes. This edition will raise funds for the Necker-Enfants Malades hospital, for the ARCFA (Association for research in cardiology from the fetus to the adult) and for the WCK (World Central Kitchen). Ondine, who, by her own admission, has a “generally streetwear” style, will discover the refinements of haute couture, since she will be dressed by Elie Saab. As for his rider, his identity has not yet been revealed.

Harper previously attended the Ball in 2018

Natasha Connery, she does not have to ask the question: she knows that she will dance on Harper’s arm. She could not have dreamed of a more experienced partner… He already took part in the Ball in 2018 with Julia McCaw, heiress of the AT&T telephone company. “I was quite stressed, even though I had taken a few waltz lessons. I hope I remember that,” he jokes. “I’m counting on you to teach me,” Natasha replies. She can be reassured, after a few obligatory spins, she will find today’s music “in a more nightclub atmosphere”, we are told by the organization. Harper kept a few friends from her first Ball, including True Whitaker, the famous actor’s daughter, and her then date, Giacomo Belmondo, Jean-Paul’s grandson. This year, he will find on the track Annabel Zimmer, the daughter of the great Hollywood composer, who is his neighbor in New York. Before thinking about having fun, Natasha has to choose… a dress. And it’s not the easiest. “One you’ll be comfortable moving around in,” advises Harper.

Natasha dreams of cinema

Thus adorned, draped and silvered, she begins to look like a James Bond Girl. Would she see herself playing in an Agent 007 adventure, as a nod to her grandfather? Our question amuses him. Half. Because Natasha dreams of cinema. She studied it at the Tisch School of the Arts in Manhattan, to one day “produce, write and perform”. An ambition shared by Harper. Enrolled at New York University, he learned storytelling, the art of telling stories. He also has a passion for cooking. He spent his summer in Poland preparing meals for Ukrainian refugees. Among the Pecks, the love of cinema has been passed down from generation to generation. Cecilia, Gregory’s daughter, is a director, as well as a producer and an actress: “I believe that one of my fondest memories with my father is being able to play in a film with him (“Le portrait in 1993) and seeing how wonderful he was on a film set,” she recalls. In 2000, she climbed the steps in Cannes to present the documentary “Conversation with Gregory Peck”, a moving tribute to this man who inspired her so much. Her husband, Daniel Voll, was a reporter for the magazine “Vanity Fair”, before becoming, in turn, screenwriter and producer. As for their daughter, Ondine, she has just joined Duke University in North Carolina, where she is preparing a degree in literature, cinema, theater and business. A varied program that we will gladly explain to you. “In this business, nothing is guaranteed, even when you have a name,” notes Harper, still head on shoulders. Except when it comes to love. Throughout our interview, he can’t help but admire Natasha walking around in different outfits. “She’s the woman of my life, he keeps repeating. When we have finished our studies, I would like us to come and settle in Paris. To reconnect with my family history.” This is what young people dream of.

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