elizabeth taylor photo

Marisa Berenson in a Paul Poiret dress as the Marchesa Luisa Casati for The Proust Ball at the Rothschild family’s opulent Château de Ferrières in France, Photo by Cecil Beaton, December 1971.

Tribute to Marchesa Luisa Casati.

Marisa Berenson went as Marchesa Luisa Casati to The Proust Ball—the idea of costume designer Piero Tosi, with whom Berenson had just worked on the film Death in Venice. “You are not going to go like all those other women,” he proclaimed, instead dressing her in a Paul Poiret dress adorned with jeweled snakes, a curled red wig, black lipstick, and a black tiara. "When I walked in, nobody recognized me,” she says. “I had so much fun because I was totally sticking out from everybody else.

The Proust Ball (Bal Proust), 1971.

The Proust Ball, thrown in honor of the 100th anniversary of Marcel Proust’s birth in 1971, might be considered Marie-Helene de Rothschild’s greatest triumph. Around 350 guests attended the extremely rich dinner at her home outside of Paris, the Château de Ferrières, with 350 or so more arriving in time for a second, later dinner. Among the guests were Audrey Hepburn, Princess Grace of Monaco, Elizabeth Taylor, and Richard Burton, while Cecil Beaton was the night’s photographer. French model and actress Marisa Berenson remembers the night, saying, “As soon as you arrived at Ferrières it was like going back in time, but more luxuriously with highly refined taste… . The women wore dresses, bodices, big headdresses, tiaras, lots of jewelry. It was truly the era of Proust.” (x)