Back-to-back Carnival balls — and their initial statements — provided a weekend of A-OK celebration. The first was the Achaeans and the second, Athenians. Respectively, they date from 1949 and 1910, and both enjoy Hellenic hobnobbing. Said to have come from the name Achaeus, the mythical founder of the Achaeans tribe that then bore his name, the members inhabited a region in the northern Peloponnese (a part of Greece, as we now know it). For the Achaeans bal masqué, the organization “inhabited” the Grand Ballroom of the Sheraton New Orleans.
Meanwhile, the Krewe of Athenians, which traces its origins to Athena, goddess of wisdom and war and patron of liberal arts, held forth in the New Orleans Convention Center.
Perseus and Medusa
The myth of valiant fighter Perseus, a son of Zeus, and the Gorgon Medusa, whom he beheaded, thanks to his nimbleness and a mirrored shield, marqueed the merriment at the Achaeans Ball. Whereas, all feared looking at Medusa and her terrible stare in the legend, every eye turned to the pretty pageantry of the ball.
Reigning was Miss Jennifer Leigh St. Paul, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Honore St. Paul III. Last year, the throne’s radiant occupant was Miss Leighton Freret Bell, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Michael John Bell.
The court maids to queen Jennifer were Misses Virginia Legier Alpaugh (the Twelfth Night queen and subdeb monarch of Apollo), Eleanor Barrett Beuerman (the subdeb queen of Squires), Blakely Durand Brennan, Claire Catherine Brown, Caroline Talbot Dienes, Katherine Marie Fleming (the Nereus queen), Rachel Allen Gorney, Chandler Christine Moody, Katherine Josephine Moody, Lauren LeQuesne Murphy (who reigned the next night at Athenians) and Shelley Elizabeth Tompkins. They processed to music by the Jimmy Maxwell Orchestra.
The above Michael Bell served as the ball’s general chairman with assistance from vice chairmen James M. Baldwin Jr. and Oliver Stanislaus Delery Jr.
An A-line dress of embroidered dupioni silk designed and created by Ilaine Hartman outfitted the lovely Jennifer. Embellishment included Austrian crystal rhinestones and bugle beads. Her glittering accessories were the crown and scepter, along with the organization’s Medici collar and mantle.
Her mother, whose first name is that of her daughter, chose a look by a former first lady of this country: Jackie Kennedy, and later Onassis. The “Jackie O” vintage dress featured a flat waistline bow.
She shared a prominent seat in the Queen’s Box along with Lisa Sinders, Caroline Sinders, Kelly Gregory and Mmes. John Puckett, Kenneth Taylor, Henry St. Paul Jr., and Todd Johnson, who, as Miss Corinne St. Paul, reigned in 1984. Noted in other significant box seats were Mmes. Thomas E. Beron, David Bailey, Bryan Fitzpatrick, William Ellis, St. Denis Villere III, Baldwin Montgomery, Noel Johnson, Robert H. Saer, Bruce Thompson, John Lovoi, Todd Thompson, Michael Schmidt (the 2000 monarch as Miss Elisabeth Sheldon Thompson), Mark Hennessy, Charles Heidingsfelder, and Ms. Molly Hennessy.
In addition to several of the aforementioned monarchs, there were former queens Nancy Jane Worley, Caroline Friedrichs Ham, Kathryn Lane “Katie” Scanlon, Kristen Cromwell Brennan, and Mrs. Pike Howard, 2007’s Cecile Carriere “Celie” Stumm.
Big Blast and the Party Masters from Atlanta rendered decibels for dancing at the Queen’s Supper, where red flowers for Valentine’s Day bedecked the monarchs’ tables. Post “Perseus and Medusa,” queen Jennifer mused about the honor she received and the joy she experienced sharing her crowned moments with kin and kith, concluding with “It is hard to imagine that I will ever experience a more perfect evening.”
The Crystal Ball … and All
In an elaborately decorated ballroom of the Convention Center, Miss Lauren LeQuesne Murphy, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Richard L. Murphy Jr., caught the Carnival eye in her royal role. Royal robes, too. She wore a silk-satin, double-tier gown designed by the late Judy Cobb that was embellished with pearls and brilliants. From her shoulders fell the lush Athenians mantle. Miss Caroline Janvier Nelson enjoyed that same spotlight in 2013.
White gowns of their choosing were worn by the 2014 Ladies of the Court: Misses Margaret Claire Adams, Mary Elizabeth Benjamin, Elizabeth Lancaster Dunlap (the queen of Caliphs of Cairo), Rachel Allen Gorney, Katherine Dunlap Honeywell, Olivia Elisabeth Hotard, Kimball Elizabeth Nicholson, Evon Rebecca O’Brien, Julia Nicole Pusateri, Emily Lee Dutton Seba, Margaret Mary Sewell, Frances Montgomery Truett, and Kelsey Christine Warren.
The same-designed dresses outfitted court princesses Eleanor Helen Hortencia Curtis, Brooke Elizabeth Habetz, Ellen Marie Hailey, Vivienne Marguerite Hotard, Constance Campbell Johnson, Samantha Jordan Knister, Madeleine Anne Long, Jane Calistoga Tierney Luetkemeier, Caroline Staples Picou, and Anna Hassinger Schmidt. Likewise, the pages — Pierce Eduardo Bewley, Barrett Harrigan Blaum, Luke Hilliard Charpentier, and William Winchester Gagnet – were uniformly garbed.
Laughter and chuckles abounded during the tableau, “Athena Gazes Into Her Crystal Ball” as the goddess of wisdom and war peered into the future concerning the next gubernatorial race in Louisiana. A parade of the likenesses of former office-holders cavorted about the floor.
The audience turned away from the frolickers to those running the ball: Messrs. Donald O. Collins, Hilton S. Bell, Emmett A. Smith Jr. and Henry C. Schonberg, respective general, court, reception and floor committee chairmen.
Noted, too, was royal mother Lori Murphy in a black Tadashi Shoji sheath, who was joined by Mmes. Richard L. Murphy, Thomas Bradley Growden, James T. Inscoe, James E. Rosamond, Barry Morse, Mark Blanchard, Gordon Stewart and Mason Randolph. Also Misses Margaret Murphy (the 2013 Caliphs queen) and Sarah Broome.
Nearby were Ms. Yvette Monju (in a red, strapless Halston gown), Joyce M. Delery (the 1982 queen), Jennifer Magnes, Anne D. Comarda, and Mmes. Kenneth L Verlander, Dwight L. Acomb, Karl E. Hoefer, Edwin A. Ellinghausen III, Michael B. Whealdon, W. Ryan Acomb, Edward H. Arnold III, Richard K. Blum, and Oliver S. Delery Sr. and Jr.
Mother of princess Anna Schmidt, Mary (Mrs. Justin B.) Schmidt, who appeared in a sapphire blue gown, was seated along with Mmes. Donald O. Collins, Henry C. Schonberg, Robert C. Hassinger, Mark D. Latham, David G. Wolford, Dann L. Cahoon and Stephen H. Schonberg. A number of former queens attended, recalling their moments on the throne.
Jimmy Maxwell was the musical purveyor at the ball, and Deacon John and the Ivories at the supper, which was held in the New Orleans Country Club. There, her majesty Lauren received a host of compliments. The king, as is the case with most old-line balls, was not identified, but he presented special friends a pin that he inspired as a memento of his reign. As did the Achaeans king, he praised his queen and had a ball himself.