The Parties of the Century, As Remembered by Marisa Berenson

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Marisa BerensonPortrait Bertrand le Pluard, Styling Elizabeth Fraser-Bell

"I’ll never forget Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball in NYC in 1966..." The iconic actress and model recalls some of the late 20th century's most extraordinary soirées

“Marie-Hélène de Rothschild threw some extraordinary parties in Paris, like the Proust Ball in 1971, which I was lucky enough to attend. I went as the Marchesa Luisa Casati and no one recognised me, not even the hostess! Piero Tosi dressed me in a black gown by Paul Poiret, draped in pearls and with black feathers in my hair. Cecil Beaton was the only photographer allowed in and he only shot a few people there: the Duchess of Windsor, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and I were amongst them. I’ll also never forget Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball in New York City in 1966. That was probably one of the most beautiful parties ever, and there were so many fascinating people there. I went as a sort of princess – Halston designed my dress, with a turban and a beautiful mask.”

Few 20th-century icons have quite the transcontinental allure of Marisa Berenson, the American-born actress whose maternal bloodline (her grandmother was Elsa Schiaparelli) ensured her place in the upper echelons of Paris society. Birthright alone, however, does not a star create: it is her talent as an actress and model that has sustained Berenson’s career since the early Sixties, and her dedication to transcendental meditation that has preserved an insatiable lust for life. At 68, Berenson’s agenda has barely slowed, with a host of projects taking her across the planet – from designing a Surrealist jewellery collection to her prestigious position as a UNESCO Artist for Peace.

This article appears in the S/S16 edition of AnOther Magazine.