They are legendary: Clio, Urania, Melpomene, Thalia, Terpsichore, Calliope, Erato, Polyhymnia and Euterpe. Take a bow, daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne.
In Greek mythology, each Muse, as a guiding spirit, presided over a different art or science, ranging from History (Clio) to Lyric Poetry (Euterpre). Since then, and for eons since, they have been referenced by famous writers, poets, artists, musicians and singers. In the Crescent City, we know them also as a succession of streets.
During the annual Carnival ball held in the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center’s New Orleans Theater, the Young Men Illinois Club Inc. invited members and guests to seek artistic inspiration. “Tonight, the Young Men Illinois Club invokes the Muses” was the announcement.
Certainly there was visual inspiration in the sight of the queen and her court. Radiant as her majesty was Miss Jaelyn Courtney Vigee, a debutante and daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ronald C. Vigee. Debutantes in the court included Misses Andrea Kay Baudy, Kayla Renee Forstall, Allison Elisa Jefferson, Saudia Simone Jones, Alaina Marie Randolph, Gabrielle Dominique Scioneaux, Dwyn Alexandra Steib and Kayla Marie Swanson.
Ten girls were princesses, as was queen Jaelyn a few years ago. Making their appearance in the 2015 court were Misses Naima Gabriel Bocage, Isabel Anise Davis, Amira Donyell Dawson, Maci Milan Duplessis, Kai Zora Louise Haley, Simone Amy Haley, Nala Monet Hamilton, Alena Maria Irvin, Sophia Rose Parker and Ever Soleil Vigee. Master Cardell Ross III was the page.
Mr. Emile A. Bagneris III answers to YMIC president. Additional officers are Dr. Terence M. Augillard, William D. Aaron Jr., Clinton T. Smith Jr., Cardell Ross Jr., Lawrence R. Robinson, John R. Murchison, Wane M. Preyan, Milton M. Brown, Marion D. Floyd, Dr. John E. Wilson and Craig B. Mitchell. Twenty-four men are included in the General Membership category, including Mr. Vigee.
Aligned with the theme and the suggestion of Hellenic architecture, the stage décor depicted the Parthenon. For the musical statement, Clark J. Knighten and Black Cat Productions filled the bill. In the course of the formalities, there were also special proclamations from the offices of U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond and Mayor Mitch Landrieu. Then there was the special recognition made by the hosting club to significant and distinguished guests: the 2015 Zulu, NOMTOC and Original Illinois Club royalty.
Queen Jaelyn made a lovely picture in a coronation gown of silk taffeta with a fitted bodice and a trumpet skirt with a demi train. In addition to the large aurora borealis rhinestones that encrusted the regal dress, there was crisscross jewel banding at the top. The traditional 18-tier collar was constructed of metallic gold lace and covered with crystals. Tall white ostrich feathers embellished the back of the collar.
Additional accessories were the mantle of royal blue dupioni silk with the club’s initials in German crystal glass; the silver-finished scepter made of Swarovski crystals; and the glittering crown that featured, in the center-back, the queen’s initials and sentimental references to her family.
The queen’s regalia was designed by Patricia Halsell-Richardson, a creator of it along with Barbara Pritchett, Theola Bright, Carla Richardson-Lett and Patrice Dana Richardson of Patricia Ann’s Inc. of Mobile, Alabama.
Royal mother Voris Vigee wore a Badgley Mischka mode with a slight mermaid-style skirt and grandmother Patricia Vigee Johnson, a sleeveless navy satin A-line gown with a bateau neckline. Noted too in their finery were Cheryl Floyd, in a black beaded gown; Dr. Wanda Augillard, in a Teri Jon design; Christy Ross, in a look by Meier; Kelly Smith, in a palomino-colored jacketed gown by LaPerle on New York; and Rosalind Kay, in a three-piece silk lace ensemble by Damianou.
After the tableau, the queen’s breakfast dance took place in another location within the Convention Center. Traditional breakfast fare and music by the popular DJ Charles Balonge were major treats during a night in which everyone, guided by the nine mythological sisters, was given the opportunity for glorious a-Musement.
Prior to donning the gown and accoutrements of royalty, Jaelyn was the honoree at a party in her honor held in the Ile de France Ballroom of the JW Marriott, and given by her parents. The theme of the party was “From a Canvas to a Masterpiece” and watermelon, black, gold and silver were the dominant chromatics. They first appeared on the pretty and colorful invitation that announced the Saturday evening date.
As guests entered the party site, they noticed the beautiful centerpieces of roses and hydrangeas arranged on crystal candelabra; the black linen and watermelon satin toppers; the sequined silver drapery in the entrance foyer of the ballroom; and the stage setting, including a gold Victorian leather chaise for the queen-elect. Roman columns, gold sequined draping as a backdrop and a stage skirt of gold fabric completed the arrangements.
Among the guests — along with the above deb grandmother Ms. Johnson and Jaelyn’s sister Taylor and brother Jeremiah Vigee — were Dr. Darren and Shasta Vigee, Alden and Rhesa McDonald, Stephanie Navarre, Kathleen Astoraga, Christine Thomas, Dr. Derrick and Leontyne Jones, Okyeame and Melissa Haley, the above Drs. Augillard, Dr. Eric Wright, and Diana E. Bajoie, former state senator, who delivered proclamations from the city council and the office of the mayor.
Jaelyn, in turn, made presentations to her mother, Voris, and her grandmother, Patricia; and to royal consultants Kimberly Buckner, Hedy Duplessis, Dr. Kristin Duplessis, Dr. Hazel Parker and Pamela Scott.
Additional features of the delightful evening were the bounty of the buffet; the cake created by Zoe’s Bakery; music by Clark J. Knighten and the 4x4 Connection Band, as well as the Pin Stripe Brass Band; and the attire of Jaelyn and Voris. The latter chose a long-sleeved Teri Jon velvet gown with jewel embellishment at the neckline, while Jaelyn, then as the queen-elect, greeted guests in a gown by Patricia Ann’s and a Swarovski tiara that was custom-designed and created by Dynasty Collection of Mobile, Alabama.
A unique feature of the gala party was the work of artist Myesha Francis of M. Francis Gallery, who both entertained the guests and produced a lifetime souvenir for Jaelyn. A painting was completed and presented to her when the bash ended.
At the conclusion of “From a Canvas to a Masterpiece,” Jaelyn commented on the lovely event that combined whimsy and myriad delights. She thanked the club for choosing her, saying she “felt so honored and blessed to be given the opportunity to represent the Young Men Illinois Club as their 2015 queen.” Six days later, she wore the crown.