International Debutante Ball

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The International Debutante Ball is an invitation-only formal debutante ball to present young ladies from upper-class families to high society. Founded in 1954, it occurs every two years at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City.[1][2][3][4][5][6]

Young women from around the globe and all over the United States are brought together at the ball and the surrounding parties, including daughters of Presidents of the United States, diplomats, nobility, senators, ambassadors and governors. Over the years the ball has benefited numerous charities from the International Debutante Ball Foundation including the Soldiers', Sailors', Marines', Coast Guard and Airmen's Club of New York, which provides a home away from home for men and women of the United States Armed Services.[7]

The International Debutante Ball is considered the most prestigious and the most exclusive debutante ball in the world.[8][9][10]

Format[edit]

Debutantes from the 58th International Debutante Ball at New York City's Waldorf Astoria Hotel (2012)

The International Debutante Ball is held biennially, with the most recent ball having occurred in December 2012.[11] Each ball is preceded by a number of events and parties for the debutantes, including the Bachelor's Brunch, in private Manhattan members-only clubs such as the Colony Club, 21 Club or the University Club of New York.[12]

At the ball itself, each debutante is escorted by two men: one United States Military Academy cadet and one American civilian. According to New York Magazine, the current organizer of the International Debutante Ball stated that "Every young lady should have two men."[13]

Each debutante represents her state or country at the International Debutante Ball and a song, e.g., a national anthem or a song associated with the country where the debutante is from, is played by the orchestra for the debutante when she is presented on stage. The military escort of the debutante also carries the flag of the country or US state where the debutante comes from. Each debutante must also greet a thousand or more guests individually in the receiving line. Due to the fact that there are debutantes representing their own US state or country, the International Debutante Ball has been dubbed by publications as 'The United Nations of Debutante Balls and the private society world'.[14]

The scene at the International Debutante Ball has been described as a "Gatsby-style splendour in Manhattan's Waldorf-Astoria" (referring to F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby).[15]

Qualifications and selection[edit]

In order to be presented as a debutante at the International Debutante Ball, debutantes must be recommended by a previous debutante of the International Debutante Ball.[16] Debutantes must also be accepted by the Chairmen of the Debutante Committee of the International Debutante Ball and be able to afford the debutante presentation fee.[17]

Debutantes who are usually accepted are highly accomplished young ladies in athletics, community service, academics, philanthropy and charity and are from well-connected families.[18] The debutantes are required to maintain the standards of civility, chastity, manners, etiquette and gentility.[19] Chosen debutantes are usually between the ages of 17 and 21 years old, although the traditional age for debutantes is 17 or 18 years old.

According to the current organizer of the ball, the debutantes must be well-known with connections in the New York debutante and high society and as long as 'the debutante has the right connections, she has a chance of being invited'.[20][21][22]

According to the New York Times, the organiser of the ball stated that the ball does not want any "Tootsie" to participate.[23]

Debutantes of the International Debutante Ball have been referred to as "members of a special and very select social group, and of a carefully guarded social circle".[24] They have also been dubbed as "high profile" and "preppy". [25]

Once chosen, each debutante is required to pay at least $16,000.[20] Additionally, many debutantes spend thousands more on haute couture gowns, celebrity hairdressers and other related expenses.[26]

The chosen debutantes are known as "women of distinction".[27]

The debutantes include royalty, heiresses, aristocrats and scions of American families from the Social Register.

Debutantes of the International Debutante Ball also include daughters of Forbes 400 billionaire businessmen and many Wall Street financiers.[28]

The International Debutante Ball has therefore been referred to as 'the debutante ball that presents the daughters of the world's top one percent'.[5][29]

History[edit]

The International Debutante Ball was founded in 1954 by socialite, philanthropist and humanitarian Beatrice Dinsmore Joyce,[30] who was dubbed as the 'Duchess of Debs' and the 'Grand dame of debutante balls'.[31] Joyce was inspired to create an American debutante ball after hearing Consuelo Vanderbilt make an observation about debutante balls and how lucky girls are who travel to debutante balls in different countries.[32]

The band leader Lester Lanin played the music from the start in 1954 until his last ball in the 1990s. Every guest was given a special "lanin hat". The first balls were held at the Plaza Hotel with 35 girls from different countries and different states. As it grew with more girls participating, it moved to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.

Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen of the Debutante Committee of the International Debutante Ball include or have included:[33]

Notable past debutantes[edit]

Over the years, the International Debutante Ball has had the honor of presenting many notable young women to society, including but not limited to:

Other debutantes of the International Debutante Ball have included members of prominent American and international families including:[43]

Impact[edit]

Debutantes of the International Debutante Ball have been dubbed as 'Blue Blooded Socialites', 'the crème de la crème of young women' and 'the next it girls' by the media and 'The luckiest girls in the world' by the New York Observer.[45] The International Debutante Ball has also been dubbed as 'the ultimate debutante ball for young society ladies of distinction' presenting the next generation of eligible accomplished socialites.[30][46][47]

According to Gotham Magazine, the International Debutante Ball is the "Ball of the Deb Season" where the "well-heeled of the world" head to.[48]

The ball has also been called "the prettiest sight in this fine pretty world where the privileged class enjoys its privileges", referring to a quote from The Philadelphia Story.[49]

The International Debutante Ball serves as a charity benefit, with money collected benefiting a variety of charities over the years. Chief among the beneficiaries is the The Soldiers', Sailors', Coast Guards', Marines' and Airmen's Club of Manhattan,[12] which provides a home away from home for men and women of the United States Armed Services.

Debutantes of the International Debutante Ball form lifelong lasting friendships and connections with each other.[50]

Cultural references[edit]

The International Debutante Ball has been the topic of several media, both fiction and non-fiction.

Books[edit]

  • Cornelia Guest, The Debutante’s Guide to Life (1986)
  • Ward Morehouse, Inside the Plaza: an intimate portrait of the ultimate hotel (2001)[51]
  • Kimberly Schlegel, The Pleasure of your company: Entertaining in High Style (2004)[32]
  • Lucy Kavaler, The Private World Of High Society: Its Rule And Rituals (2011)[52]
  • Diana Oswald, Oscar de la Renta and David P. Columbia, Debutantes: When glamour was born (2013)[53]

Movies[edit]

  • Metropolitan (1990), an Oscar nominated film directed by Whit Stillman depicting the lives of young, upper-class New Yorkers during debutante ball season. The International Debutante Ball is one of the balls in the movie.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Edge, Simon. "Who'll Marry Prince Harry?". The Daily Express (UK). Retrieved 18 December 2012. 
  2. ^ Pearlman, Natasha. "Who will hook Prince Harry next? The eligible beauties who could help the Prince mend his broken heart". Daily Mail UK. Retrieved 15 June 2014. 
  3. ^ Rice, Francesca. "The Über Glamorous Debutante Balls We Wish We'd Been Invited To". Marie Claire UK. Retrieved 11 May 2014. 
  4. ^ Kelley, Kitty. "Why aren't the Bush daughters in Iraq?". LA Times. Retrieved 27 May 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Weiss, Piper. "Outrageous Facts About Debutante Balls (fact 1: They Still Exist)". Yahoo. Retrieved 6 April 2014. 
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  30. ^ a b c Foderaro, Lisa W. (December 30, 2008). "Glamour Still Rules, but With Fewer Debutantes". The New York Times. Retrieved September 8, 2010. 
  31. ^ Says, Suzy. "Debutantes from 19 nations take a bow at the Waldorf". Palm Beach Daily News. Retrieved 27 November 2013. 
  32. ^ a b Schlegel, Kimberly (2004). The Pleasure Of Your Company: Entertaining in High Style. Gibbs Smith. p. 192. 
  33. ^ Muneer, Abbey H. "The 56th Annual International Debutante Ball: Thirty Women Bow". Liberty News Online. Retrieved 26 November 2012. 
  34. ^ Time, Magazine (4 January 1963). "People: Jan. 4, 1963". Time Magazine. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  35. ^ Ambrose, Stephen E. Nixon, Vol. 2: The Triumph of a Politician, 1962-1972. Premier Digital Publishing. Retrieved 23 December 2013. 
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  41. ^ "Sisis Ururenkelin präsentiert Milchzahn der Kaiserin". Die Presse. Retrieved 16 May 2013. 
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