Marie-Hélène de Rothschild’s Surrealist Ball, 12 December 1972
Top : Salvador Dalí with The Princess Maria Gabriella de Savoia
Bottom : Senhora Espirito and The Duke and Duchess of Cadaval
“… On 12 December 1972, Marie-Hélène gave her Surrealist Ball at Ferriéres. This time the guests were asked to come in black tie and long dresses with Surrealist heads. The invitation was printed with reversed writing on a blue and cloudy sky, inspired by a painting by Magritte. To decipher the card, it had to be held to a mirror.
For the evening the chateau was floodlit with moving orange lights to give the impression that it was on fire. The staircase inside was lined by footmen dressed as cats that appeared to have fallen asleep in a variety of staged poses.
Guests had to pass throught a kind of labyrinth of Hell, made of black ribbons to look like cobwebs. The occasional cat appeared to rescue the guests and lead them to the tapestry salon. Here they were greeted by Guy with a hat to resemble a still-life on a platter, and by Marie-Hélène wearing the head of a giant weeping tears made of diamonds.
Marie Hélène proved that she had the flare and imagination to create something unique and worthwhile. None of this was created by charm alone. It needed a degree of ruthless determination.She attended to every minute detail of style in her life and also in her entertaining. She was a great hostess with all the qualities. She loved parties and people. She was forever in quest of new talent and new figures to entertain from the world of the arts, literature, dance and haute couture. She mixed them with the more established set of Paris society. everyone was intrigued. Marie-Hélène’s parties took on such importance that one social figure threatened to commit suicide unless she was invited…
It is not possible to repeat such things now for many reasons. But it is fascinanting to look back and to remember these occasions, which dominated our thoughts and plans to such an extent for so many months. I am happy that I took part in so many, and happy that I gave some myself.”
— Alexis, Baron de Redé