Mr. Pickwick Receives

A favorite Dickensian character, Mr. Pickwick, welcomed a debutante set to the stunning rooms in the downtown club that bears his name. “Mr. Pickwick requests the pleasure of your company in his club rooms…at his Reception honoring Debutantes of the Season” graced the invitation that stated costume de rigueur as the specific attire. Long gowns and gloves outfitted the lady guests. Guests were also reminded that “no cameras, video cameras, or cell phone cameras” were permitted on the premises. Dignity and decorum prevailed.

Striding forward as debutantes to be presented were Misses Hailey Simmons Becker, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Francis Becker Jr.; Genevieve Marie Bienvenu, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Albert Bienvenu IV; Elizabeth Brady Countryman, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Clay James Countryman; and Alexandra Bedsole Demmas, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George Bartlett Demmas.

And, Misses Elizabeth Brooks Ellinghausen, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Edwin A. Ellinghausen III; Sara Layne Gambel, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Gary Joseph Gambel; Aby Dixon Hamrick, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Thomas Hamrick Jr.; Aimee Druilhet Lapeyre, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Felix Henri Lapeyre III; and Sarah Marie Favrot McLellan; daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Richmond McLellan.

Also, Misses Kylie Brent McMahon, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas James McMahon Jr.; Shelby Heath Sharp Meckstroth, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey Mann Meckstroth; Emily Louise Eble Nelson, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Albert James Nelson IV; Torre Aitken Sossaman, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Patrick Sossaman; and Grace Foley Williamson, daughter of Mr. Stephen Lynn Williamson and Ms. Lynn Marie Luker.

Their fathers escorted them along the white carpet laid out for the presentation. The mothers of the debutantes sat on the flanking front rows of the carpet. As each debutante completed her escorted walk, she turned around to face the audience at the far end of the elegant presentation room and curtsied. The first dance then occurred, after which the room was readied for the next round of socializing, which meant dancing and the delights of a meal.

Mastheading the lovely merriment were club officers Messrs. Karl E. Hoefer (president), P. Albert Bienvenu, Mahlon D. Sanford and Dwight L. Acomb, along with the Reception Committee. It was co-chaired by Messrs. William H. Langenstein III and Patrick A. Talley Jr. with assistance from Messrs. H. Mark Adams and Justin B. Schmidt, the vice chairmen, along with others.

Right after she was presented, Grace Williamson looked around the impressive, high-ceilinged room. “It is beautiful,” she observed, a sentiment universally shared. Tall Christmas trees, greenery, red bows, and sparkling lights made this a stunning interior winterscape.

As with so many of the debutante rituals, there are family connections that run through generations. Three of the 2015 young ladies claim such history. The mothers of Misses Meckstroth and Ellinghausen, as the former Sarah Heath Sharp and Margaret Teissier Brooks, were both presented at the Pickwick Club. Almost 20 years before the latter two, now Mmes. Meckstroth and Ellinghausen, made their curtsies, Diana McDowell Davis (now Lapeyre) was limelighted. She is the maternal grandmother of Aimee Lapeyre.

Music regaled the guests all evening, first accompanying the debutantes during their presentation and later, everyone for dancing.

A choice melodious moment occurred right after the first dance. At that moment, the Jimmy Maxwell Orchestra launched into “This Could Be the Start of Something (Big).” Indeed! Ahead of the young ladies then were the whirl of debutante activities for Christmas and the almost-immediate Carnival season. Glory, glamour and a good time with family and friends received a fabulous “Start” at the Pickwick Club.

Mid-Winter Formality and Fun

Messrs. Richard Rene Jaubert Jr. and Morgan Williams LeCorgne head up the Mid-Winter Cotillion, respectively as president and vice president. Board members include Messrs. Edward Saunders Alpaugh III, Bristol Favrot Bell, Christopher Conway Bellone Jr., Edward Wisdom Benjamin Jr., Henry Price Ciolino, Charles Davis Friend, William Coleman Johnson, Blair Fitzgerald Kern, John Albin Koch, Peter Elias Moss III, Charles Paul Silvia III, John Crawford Steck, and James Braden Weaver.

Connections with them and the 2015 debutante coterie were prominent at the recent presentation that Mid-Winter, an organization of young men, hosted at the New Orleans Country Club. Wearing the traditional red sash, the board members escorted the debutantes.

Prior to the presentation, the board held a champagne reception with the traditional turtle soup for the debs and their parents. At that time, President Jaubert extended a delightful toast to the young ladies and to his board members.

Then it was on the presentation! Appearing first, and to the musical accompaniment of Deacon John and the Ivories, was Miss Claire Alexandra Adams, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Pankey Adams III. Then came Misses Grace Ann Bellone, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Conway Bellone, and escorted by her above brother, Conway; the above Genevieve Marie Bienvenu, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Albert Bienvenu IV – Mr. Bienvenu is a past Mid-Winer president; Alexandra Elizabeth Cimini, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Roland Vaughn Cimini; Ara Alexandra Ellison, daughter of Mr. William C. Ellison and Dr. Felicia A. Rabito; and twins Gladys Grace Gille and Lucile Rose Gille, daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Brian Jennings Gille. Their mother, as Gladys Van Horn (now Gille), was presented at Mid-Winter during her debut year.

More within the 2015 cotillion were Misses Corinne Adele Guillot, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Jacques Louis Guillot; Mathilde Michinard Kepper, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. David Conway Kepper; Ruth Marie Nairne Landry, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Dodt Landry — Mrs. Landry, the former Elizabeth Burke, reigned as queen of Carnival in 1980; the above Aimee Druilhet Lapeyre, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Felix Henri Lapeyre III; Sarah Ehret Martin, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Edward Joseph Martin III; and Leslie Anne Richmond McConnell, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. David Blake Barnhill McConnell (Dr. Susan Leslie Favrot McLellan).

And, Misses Alison Marie Mikes, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Steven Joseph Mikes; Ashley Elizabeth Pou, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Paul Pou; Mary Callaghan Rome, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. C. Perrin Rome III; Adley Claire Schmid, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Woolf Schmid; Isabelle LaPlace Shall, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. David LaPlace Shall; and Katherine Woodworth Slatten, daughter and stepdaughter of Mr. and Mrs. Scott Tappan Slatten and daughter of Ms. Michelle Browder Slatten. The first dance was with their fathers to “Thank Heaven for Little Girls.”

A recent debutante father and former Mid-Winter member Mr. Howard Thompson, acted as master of ceremonies.

As befitted the name of the organization, the background for the staging was composed of a dozen white trees with twinkling lights, eliciting “Very wintry!” as a description. To further that look, the tables were decorated with holly and silver-glittered branches. Continuous breakfast fare, along with the ice cream sundae bar, a perennial favorite, fed the flock.

When the debutantes put down their bouquets of blush, white and pink peonies to eat and then head to the dance floor, they responded to the musical gamut played by Deacon John. One of the chief moments occurred when college pals of Grace Gille reacted to a significant song and dance-floor enthusiasm rounded up about 400 lively socializers.