A pair of back-to-back debutante parties added French flair to a Crescent City scenario. For the Friday fete, “Ashland and Ellie” were bannered on the invitation for “Un Soir” in New Orleans of yore, while the following evening, the more formalized names of “Leah Katherine Whann and Charlotte Lane Langenstein” appeared for a spectacular social stroll in Paris, titled “Twilight in the Tuileries.” Each bash limelighted a brace of debutantes and sets of proud parents.
The beautiful home of Mr. and Mrs. William Hugh Hines was the location for the pre-1920s-themed revelry and the suggested presence of the French Opera House, which, in its day, set a major social tone. The Hineses, Mary and Bill, teamed with Dr. and Mrs. William Edward Davis, Cindy and Eddie, to honor their debutante daughters, Elizabeth Ashland Hines and Eleanor Brennan Davis.
Joining them, in addition to a host of friends and other relatives, were deb brother Bren Davis, Lally Brennan with Stephen Parker, Susan and Ralph Brennan, Connie and Tommy Brennan, Carol and Jim Thornton, and Margie Davis, as well as deb sister Mary Wyatt Hines Milano with husband Kerry, deb brother Walker Hines, grandfather Jack Hazard, Gail and Ned Bergin, and John Hazard.
They and the scores of invitees responded to the handsome, vermilion-colored invitation designed as a book. On the cover was the party’s title, “Un Soir en la Nouvelle Orleans avec Ashland and Ellie,” and within, the pleasure of one’s company requested for “An Evening of Dinner and Dancing.” A tiny silver pencil was attached to fill in the dance programme that started with “foxtrot” and “two step.” “Black tie” was the tenue.
As guests arrived, they were immediately impressed by the tenting in the front of the Hines home, which allowed, as did that in the back, much more room for the revels. Further decorative features were the custom murals that evoked the ambiance of the French Opera House, the garden with topiaries, statuary and a grandly oversize photograph mural of Ashland and Ellie sitting in the courtyard of the Ritz Hotel in Paris. The time period presented was the 1920s. All around were abundant flowers, done by Meade Wenzel, to play off the theme.
The distaff dress added to the overall party picture and glamour. Ashland donned a Peter Polito “volcano” mode in vivid orange and black, while mom Mary paired a Valentino black velvet bodice and an organza birdcage skirt. Suzanne Perron designed Ellie’s mode, a royal blue faille skirt and a beaded top, and for Cindy, the look was a silk peau de soie cape effect over a sheath with embroidered flowers.
For hours, the guests relished the New Orleans Creole and French culinary offerings by Mr. B’s Bistro. Who could resist the taste treats of frog legs, pork belly, veal with crabmeat, trout amandine, blackened tuna and lamb chops? And for a special palate, caviar and foie gras. Sidecars, a throwback to libations of the period, were pleasingly quaffed.
When the late-night appetite kicked in, Kobe beef sliders and grilled cheese sandwiches filled the bill.
The musical punctuation was gloriously pervasive, starting with the playing by 16 members of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. Guests recognized the sounds of The Beatles, George Gershwin and Cole Porter. After the LPO lyricism, and back on the improvised stage, the Perfect 10 Band from Atlanta (in their first New Orleans appearance) generated the gyrations.
Obviously having a blast — and happy to share “Un Soir” with all their kith and kin — Ashland and Ellie joined the band on the stage to sing Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.” This, a “singular” sensation, was enfolded in an evening when compound pleasures abounded.
A Tuileries Tribute
Mr. and Mrs. William H. Langenstein III and Mr. and Mrs. Robert J. Whann IV combined festive forces to honor their above-mentioned daughters, Laney Langenstein and Katie Whann. “Twilight in the Tuileries” marqueed the merriment that unfolded in lovely style at the New Orleans Country Club with Amanda Cottingham of The Pantry Catering and Event Designs as the party planner.
Guests entered through a winter walkway leading to the club’s tented interior foyer, which was enrobed in deep swags of champagne chiffon and florally embellished with a profusion of flowers in a tiered urn. Inside the ballroom, the crepuscular theme of the invitation, as well as the famous gardens in Paris, found representation in a striped carousel canopy made of voile that centered the room and embraced the massive chandelier. It was anchored by six festooned carousel poles and served as the site for the bar. A Marie Antoinette sosie stood within the center bay of the carousel, and from her “skirt’’ of filled champagne glasses, guests had their first fill of bubbly.
Additional features were reproductions of paintings of the Tuileries, orangery boxes, a cozy library, a silver-hued nightclub, and a Parisian “restaurant” with laden buffet tables. In the Parisian-inspired library, ivory lacquered bars and a trio of mixologists created New Orleans favorites, such as Sazeracs and Old Fashioneds. Pianist David Boeddinghaus played, while guests sat in tufted lounge furniture, chatting and enjoying cheese and charcuterie.
Among those noted in the “Tuileries” throng were deb brother Wil Langenstein, grandfather Erik Johnsen and spouse Barbara, Ann and John Koerner, Catherine and John Parker, Kathryn and Charlie Brown, Susan and David Rideau, Sheryl and Bruce Furlow, Sandra Langenstein, Karens Baldwin and Johnsen with Jimmy and Chris, Kristie and Erik Johnsen, and Anne and Glyn Bailey.
And, deb brother William Whann, grandparents Judy and Bobby Whann, Katherine Whann and Robert Young, the families of Peter and Judy Abide and Mitch and Jane Abide, Shelby and John Saer, Katherine and Robbie Saer, Stephanie and Jim Huger, Kate and John Werner, and Barbara and Clark Fitz-Hugh.
In turn, they complimented honorees Laney and Katie, and their mothers, C.C. and Leah, on their festive attire, as well as the splendid décor of the party.
Food for the festivity was varied and enticing. Included were turtle soup, carving tables and their fare, raw oysters, a seared tuna bar, Gulf shrimp, and shrimp po-boys for the later crowd. Desserts attracted everyone.
To launch the musical momentum, Linni Zaorski and the Jazz Syndicats were tapped. Then came Party on the Moon, which was placed on the stage in the silver-shimmery nightclub room, where silver leaf orangery boxes with orchid sprays and branches, as well as the room, were given special illumination by Patrick Theriot and his team. A pair of “glo” bars flanked the white vinyl dance floor. There, the deb set danced with glee, while they relished the on-stage singing of Katie and Laney. Moments later, the radiant honorees descended the stage and joined in the fun of dancing with their buddies.