I've been meaning to post about this since the 30th, when the New York Times ran a fantastic piece on the International Debutante Ball, which took place in New York City at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel on December 29th.
According to the listing for the ball on CharityHappenings.org,
Forty-five young women of distinction from the United States and abroad will make their bow to society at the 54th Anniversary of the International Debutante Ball and dinner dance. The debutantes represent England, Austria, Africa, Hong Kong, France, Germany, Scotland, Yugoslavia and eleven American states. Each debutante will be accompanied by her own escort in white tie and tails, and a military cadet in dress uniform who carries the flag of the country or state which she represents. The Ball benefits The International Debutante Ball Foundation Charities.
The Times article made some really interesting points about this year's ball...as we all know, the world is in something of an economic crisis, so the $14,000 pricetag for a table at the IDB was a bigger ticket item for many than it has been in the past. Add to that the cost of the designer dresses (from Vera Wang and others), kid gloves, Mikimoto pearls, and the flights and hotels in New York during one of the city's most travelled weeks of the year, and launching your daughter into society in 2008 is no small amount of money. But, that's not to say that it isn't worth it. The IDB, like many of the other Debutante Balls around the country, has a long and venerable tradition--since 1954, it's been launching bright, beautiful young women into society. The Times piece references several mothers who, aside from launching their daughters at this year's ball, were IDB debutantes themselves.
As you know, I write Regency historicals--and there is little question that in the early 1800s, ballrooms were the center of politics, business, and world events. The Duke of Wellington planned the battle of Waterloo on a dance floor in Belgium, for goodness sake. While, certainly, debutante balls hold less geo-political weight these days than they used to, there's no question that coming out is about more than pretty dresses and boys in tails for these young women. It's fun, but it also serves a purpose.
I think Anna Moody from Jacksonville, Fla., said it best.
“I love it,” Ms. Moody, 18, said after shaking hands for an hour and a half in the receiving line, wearing a Vera Wang gown inspired by Audrey Hepburn and Mikimoto pearls. “I’m networking.”
Congratulations to the 47 newest and brightest International Debutantes. Welcome to the World.