International Debut

Five young Austin women, a record number, made their debutante bow recently at this year’s prestigious annual International Debutante Ball at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Manhattan. We love our girls in white dresses and this year was a stellar one.

By Rose Betty Williams
Photos Courtesy of the Debutante’s Families

CUTLINE FOR GROUP OF DEBS GROUP PHOTO: Bottom left to right: Catherine Chlebowski, daughter of Sharon Wilson, Martha Lauren Smith, daughter of Lanette and Wallace Smith, Kendall Smith, daughter of Lindsay and Ford Smith, Jr.Top left to right: Madison Powell, daughter of Becky and Mark Powell, Carly Jones, daughter of Ginny and Neal T. “Buddy” Jones

Many call it the loveliest and most enjoyable family occasion of the New York social season. The International Debutante Ball provides a friendly social context where young men and women from all over the world meet one another, have a wonderful time and form lasting friendships. Held every two years, it is considered to be the most prestigious and the most exclusive debutante ball in the world. This year, five fortunate Austin girls of the 13 who debuted from Texas, made their Texas Dips amongst the Manhattan swells and were a part of the group of 47 women of distinction from the United States and abroad who made their bows to over 700 guests at the 58th Anniversary of the International Debutante Ball at the Waldorf Astoria.

The receiving line was from 7-8PM, followed by dinner and dancing at 9PM in the Grand Ballroom at the Waldorf Astoria, followed by the presentation of the Debutantes 11 p.m.

For five decades, the International Debutante Ball Foundation has benefited numerous charities, primarily the Soldiers’, Sailors’, Marines’, Coast Guard and Airmen’s Club in New York City, which for over ninety years has provided a home away from home for young men and women of our Armed Forces and those of our Allies. Daughters and granddaughters of United States Presidents and United States representatives have included the three granddaughters and four great-granddaughters of President Eisenhower, both daughters and one granddaughter of President Nixon, two granddaughters of President Johnson and one granddaughter of President Bush. Families of ambassadors, nobility, as well as businessmen and women have all attended the Ball.

While the majority of the debutantes come from the United States, each year about one fourth of the young women come from abroad and form lasting friendships with their American counterparts. In total, seventy-five countries have been represented at the ball and represented China, England, France, The Netherlands, Scotland and fifteen American states.

This year’s ball held in the beautiful Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. The evening began with the receiving line from 7–8 PM in the Astor Salon, where guests meet the debutantes and press and candid photos are taken. Cocktails are then served in the Jade Room and Basildon Room and after, dinner and dancing in the Ballroom at 9PM, and at 11 PM each debutante was presented, one at a time, accompanied by a civilian escort in white tie, and, traditionally, a young man from the Academies of the U.S. Armed Forces in dress uniform who carries the flag of the debutante’s state or region. Then, dancing commenced again until 2AM with music provided by the Lester Lanin Orchestra.

As the debutante walked down the center of the Ballroom to make her bow, the orchestra plays a song appropriate to the country or state she represents. The Military flag-bearer is provided by the committee, while the civilian escort is a young man invited by the debutante or provided by the Ball CommitteeEach debutante was accompanied by her own escort in white tie and tails, and a military cadet in dress uniform who carried the flag of the country or state which she represents. It was a night of bows, cocktails, dancing and a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the young women and their families and guests.


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