One of the most legendary Balls in history, the Duchess of Richmond played host to almost the entire elite of the reserve force based in Brussels protecting it from invasion by the French Army commanded by Napoleon. Made famous through hundreds of depictions in art and stories through time - there is a sense of pregnant anticipation and glamour which often is associated with the kind of event that heralds the end or beginning of something.
Above is a depiction of the Coach house adjacent to the Duke of Richmond's Brussels' lodgings which were reported in 'The Times' in 1888 as the rediscovered site of the Ball.
Certainly less than glamorous it contradicts Lord Byron's poetry which described the Ball as been hosted in "that high hall."
Below is a depiction by John Everett Millais of the 'The Black Brunswicker' - an evocative and imagined concept of the emotional parting of the Officer and his wife. While not expecting quite the same drama in a ball for the graduating students of Saint Martins it will nonetheless be a similar sense of parting and loss of something.
Truman Capote - novelist, screenwriter, actor and social climber hosted the most famous Ball ever held in the United States.
The Black and White ball of 1966 was specifically designed by Capote to be a legendary event in which he would bring together all the people he had collected throughout his career and life in New York.
It is alleged that in the 1940s Capote said to his friend Leo Lerman that he would become rich and famous and throw a party for all his famous friends.
On some level it is a beautiful thought to think of all the students of Saint Martins, (representing the best potential in contemporary fashion, art and design,) coming together for a final event that unites talent as well as youth in an event of total whimsy.
The first great social occasion since the second world war. Carlos de Beistegui was a rather severe and icy figure who inherited a Mexican silver fortune. He had purchased the Palazzo Labia in Venice and decided to host a Ball with invitations sent to the most glamorous figures of mid 20th C society.
Reaching mythical status in the years since, le Bal Oriental represented a resurgence in society and a hark back to the edwardian age and to a lesser extent the roaring twenties. However, at least in Europe this event has not been surpassed.