The themes, “Prince Ahmed and the Fairy Banou” and “Carnival in Venice” played major roles for the High Priests of Mithras and the Krewe of Dorians. They titled, respectively, the first balls of each in 1897 and 1938. For the 2015 gallivanting, both organizations held their masked balls in separate theaters in the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and highlighted debutantes as queens. Radiant for Mithras was Miss Leah Katherine Whann, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert J. Whann IV, and for Dorians, Miss Marylynn Beatrice Smitherman, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Rogerson Smitherman. Last year, the scepters were held by Misses Courtney Lee Herbst (Dorians) and Katherine Blair Johnson (Mithras). At each ball, the 2014 monarchs received roses.
For their most recent bal masque, the High Priests of Mithras recalled both their namesake, who, in Persian mythology, was the god of light and later of the sun, and another individual who cast literary sunshine during the Elizabethan Age: William Shakespeare. The Bard’s comedies filled the ball’s thematic — ahem! — Bill.
In addition to Miss Whann, the extensive court processing in La Nouvelle Orleans Ballroom included Misses Catherine Crawford Adams, Sarah Kent Agnew, Ella de los Reyes Baus, Evelyn Burkenroad Bories, Grace Catherine Mallette Cary, Elizabeth Adams Chaffe, Claire Marie Clay, Allie McCabe Crane and Ellen Claverie Curry, who just reigned as the queen of Athenians.
And, Elizabeth Ashland Hines, Avery Campbell Hinrichs, Carolyn Wood Holtzman, twins Kaitlin Peters Kehoe and Meghan Kammer Kehoe (who were, in turn, the queen of Nereus and the first maid), Laura Elizabeth LeBlanc, Emory Lafaye Lopiccolo, Hannah Elizabeth McIntyre, Jaime Favre Pellerin, Caroline Adams Pitts, Kelly Wright Swanson, Daisy Whitfield VanDenburgh and Nicole Elizabeth Weinmann, who wore the Osiris crown on Jan. 24.
Putting seasons aside, their lovely presence evoked the Shakespearian line, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” That eternal question topped the Mithras-created poetry in the program (with “we” substituted for “I”) that described the queen and court maids with “Pulchritude abounds a plenty.”
Masters Marshall Gardiner Green, William Ryan Lafaye, John Kearney Nieset Jr. and Jonathan Tujaque Robert tended to their majesties, queen Katie and Mithras, most dutifully.
Fifty years ago, Miss Cecile LeBesque Grace (later Mrs. Westervelt Terhune Ballard) held the Mithras scepter.
As her majesty Katie Whann greeted her subjects at the ball to the music of Jubilation!, those in attendance admired her silk satin and beaded lace gown by Suzanne Perron. (She is now being recognized as well as Suzanne Perron St. Paul.) The sheer décolletage above the sweetheart neckline on the trumpet silhouette was adorned with lace and crystals. Additional features of the royal robe were an encrusted leaf pattern, a sweeping train, and the majestical accessories of the organization’s Medici collar and mantle.
Her mother, Leah Whann, chose an incandescent copper-colored gown accented with vermillion tulle by the same designer. The draping of the portrait neckline continued through the bodice before finishing with a voluminous tulle hem.
Others seated nearby included Mmes. Robert Whann III, Richard Alan Whann, Brian Negus, Mitchell Abide Jr., Peter Abide II, J. Randolph Eustis, Richard W. Fox, V. Edward Breland, Richard K. Blum, Michael Barry, and David Kepper, who reigned as Miss Megan McFerrin Barry, the 2009 Mithras queen. Also, the above 2014 queen Katherine Blair Johnson (who was acknowledged and given long-stemmed roses), Katherine Whann, Kingsley Blum, Estelle K. Gille, Jess Dallager, and Laney Langenstein, with whom monarch Katie was co-honored at a party during the Christmas season.
Once the Stratford upon Avon-themed formality and frolicking concluded, then it was on to the queen’s supper and the lively sounds of Big Swing and Ballroom Blasters. Reflecting about the joy she experienced during her queenship, Katie Whann could surely script a tome.
Order of the Court
Concurrent with the Mithras merriment and monarchy was that of the Krewe of Dorians and its theme “Doric Order.” Especially remembered by the Dorian forefathers of Hellenistic times was the Doric Order of Architecture, most notably the column. Around and about the Crescent City, we see examples of the column gracing public buildings and private residences alike.
All eyes were cast in the direction of the beautiful setting for the ball. The backdrop with its perspective, the flanking crystal chandelier and the white-canvas floor set the stage for the appearance of queen Marylynn and her court, which consisted of royal maids Caroline Elizabeth Arterburn, Grace Bethea Connors, Juliette Persons Fry, Abigail Augusta Jones, Caroline Withnell Read, Lynn Chambers Sherwood and Claire Michelle Zeringue, the most recent Olympians queen.
Ladies in waiting included Misses Shea Hodges Duckworth, Merry Alston Farris, Isabel Catherine Gibson, Alyce Louise Iglesias, Laura Caroline Kern, Alexandra Brennan Martin, Madeleine Clair Moise, Elizabeth Barat Reed (a sister to maid Caroline, and reflective of many other court relationships and connections) and Elizabeth Colon Toso. Masters John William Morton, James Ted Rogers IV, Walter Watson Scriber and Archer Graham VanDenburgh formed the page quartet.
Mrs. John Peter Labouisse III (nee Diane Marie Sustendal) was hailed as the 50-year anniversary queen.
Ladies in prominent box seats included queen mother Lois Watkins Smitherman and her mother, Mrs. Eben Tarver Watkins III, as well as Mmes. William Elkins Browning, Robert Alan Edwards, Walter Francis Becker Jr., Richard Bradley Beard Jr. (nee Lindsey Trist Brower, a former in-attendance Dorians queen, as were others), George Ellsworth Brower II, Edward Downey Dienes, John Arnold Hotard, James Sidney Hotard, Patricia Hotard Moreau, Mary Claire Hotard, Christopher Allen Mathes, Robert Grayson Lovick, Howard Jordan Platt, Stephen Metzinger, Brian Christopher Fitzpatrick, Bret Alden Clesi, John R. Cook III and IV, and James Ted Rogers III, mother of a page. Also, Danielle Amelie Viguerie, Dorothy Clyne, Elizabeth Allen Texada Hotard, and Victoria Aylett Clesi.
Miss Clesi was one of the many former monarchs who broke bread the day before in Commander’s Palace at the Dorians Queens’ Luncheon 2015. So did Mmes. Labouisse, Andre Victor Wogan, Morrison Curtis Bethea, William Leon Kohlmann, Jack Morton Wilhelm, Harriet Hailey Rouhana, Lars Thomas Herbst, Patrick Shea Duckworth, Barrett Burke Blaum, Christopher Michael McNabb, Matthew Paul DeMayers, Chad Michael Waldrup, George Wogan Bernard II, Martin Peter Pospisil, and Michael Anthony Caballero. Also, Holley Lawrence Haag, Rebeccka Lynn Coe, Barbara Blair Schmidt, and Meredith Desporte Provensal.
Quite a few wore the handsome favor pin of a Doric column done by India Stewart and passed around the thematic-inspired invitation.
At the ball, the queen’s gown was greatly admired. It too was designed by Suzanne Perron St. Paul and made of embroidered Italian tulle and silk satin with an Art Deco-inspired design featuring panels of intensely bugle-beaded scallops and lace. Additional embellishment was extensive. The royal component came from the KoD queen’s medal that hung from her majesty’s neck, the Medici collar and the Dorians silver lame mantle.
Further delights occurred prior to the ball — at the Orleans Club, where Mrs. Smitherman held the queen’s reception — and after, at the New Orleans Country Club for the queen’s breakfast, where Thibodeaux’s Florist enhanced the handsome club rooms with white flowers and green fern fronds. Jimmy Maxwell’s society orchestra played and guests relished a breakfast buffet, capped off with king cake fit for a queen. All the while, attendees complimented her majesty Marylynn on her queenly poise and lovely radiance.