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Making their debut

Shanghai Star | Updated: 2015-01-17 05:49

Making their debut

All in white: The 14 debutantes at the Shanghai ball are picked and interviewed by Vivian Chow, the founder and organizer of the event. Photo provided to Shanghai Star

Finding women who are Chinese and qualify as a debutante used to be a major challenge for organizer Vivian Chow. Nine out of the 14 debutantes this year are China-based, either in Shanghai or Hong Kong. But none of them are Chinese nationals.

"Socialites and debutantes are fundamentally different," says Chow, who appears rather scornful of the word "socialite", despite domestic media often referring to her as one of the most influential socialites in China.

"Socialites have full schedules of activities such as afternoon tea, manicures, and shopping, while a debutante is solid inside. I think I am fully qualified to draw the distinction," she added.

Chow, 68, is the driving force behind the ball She is the youngest daughter of Chinese Peking Opera master Zhou Xinfang and moves between high society in London, Hong Kong and her hometown, Shanghai.

Chow introduced the century-old London ball to Shanghai in 2012, after claiming in interviews that China's nouveau rich were ignorant of true luxury. Chow, together with her husband, has also coined a new translation for the word debutante in Chinese, which used to share the same Chinese word with "socialite".

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