Le Debut des Jeunes Filles de la Nouvelle Orleans

Whereas the principal focus was a distaff one, young men made the first appearance. Called les Jeunes Messieurs, the limelighted foursome included Messrs. W. McCord Frampton, son of Dr. and Mrs. Donald Roy Frampton; E. James Kock IV, son of Mr. and Mrs. Kock III; Miles Sharp Meckstroth, son of Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey Alan Meckstroth; and Michael Burton Whealdon Jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. Whealdon. They were clad in the evening’s de rigueur white linen suit, organization tie, and, atop their heads, the signature boater.

To commence the formalities for the annual Le Debut des Jeunes Filles de la Nouvelle Orleans in the Grand Ballroom of the New Orleans Hilton Riverside, master of ceremonies Mark Romig appeared to announce the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” He then remarked what was about to ensue “in this lovely setting.” A cue for the Jeunes Messieurs followed and they strode the length of the ballroom to the stage. Seated on either side of them were the mothers of les Jeunes Filles, debutantes of the new 2015-16 season that culminates on Shrove Tuesday, February 9, 2016.

“Now it is my pleasure to introduce les Jeunes Filles” continued Mark and the cotillion of 26 processed with their fathers as their escorts. Along the way to the stage, where they were greeted by the young men, the debutantes halted to acknowledge their beaming mothers with a modified curtsy. Accompanying each father-daughter duo was a “song to process by” chosen by the family and played by Deacon John and the Ivories.

The first deb to catch the spotlight was Miss Hailey Simmons Becker, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Francis Becker Jr., whose song was “My Girl,” which was what the evening was all about. She, as did the others, made a second curtsy, a deeper one and facing the audience, just before arriving at the stage area, where a Jeune Monsieur then escorted her up the few steps to the stage’s platform.

Then came Misses Agnes Robeson Bell, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Michael John Bell, and the sister of Bristol Bell, a Jeune Monsieur of 2014; Grace Anne Bellone, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Conway Bellone; Genevieve Marie Bienvenu, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Albert Bienvenu IV; Evelyn Frances Brooks, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Philip Schoen Brooks Jr.; Shawn Elizabeth Conner, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Pierre Euclide Conner III; and Alexandra Bedsole Demmas, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George Demmas. (Mrs. Demmas also answers to Ms. Raine Bedsole.)

And, Misses Elizabeth Brooks Ellinghausen, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Edwin A. Ellinghausen III, and the sister of Ed Ellinghausen IV, also a Jeune Monsieur of 2014; Sara Layne Gambel, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Gary Joseph Gambel; Gladys Grace Gille, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Brian Jennings Gille; Adelaide Dabezies Goodyear, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Waterhouse Goodyear IV; Isabella Slatten Healy, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Hyde Dunbar Healy; and Mary Faith Lindner, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Russell Craig Lindner.

Six of the debutantes had surnames that started with an “M.” They were Misses Jean Tate Mabon, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Starr Mabon; Lillian Elizabeth Nicolson Martin, daughter and stepdaughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Christopher Martin and daughter of Ms. Margaret Nicolson; Leslie Anne Richmond McConnell, daughter of Mr. David Black Barnhill McConnell and Dr. Susan Leslie Favrot McLellan; Bryn Ellen McFadden, daughter Dr. and Mrs. Paul Michael McFadden; Sarah Marie Favrot McLellan, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Richmond McLellan; Shelby Heath Sharp Meckstroth, daughter of the above Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey Alan Meckstroth, and sister of 2015 Jeune Monsieur Miles Sharp Meckstroth; and Alison Marie Mikes, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Steven Joseph Mikes.

In the alphabetical sequence of their appearance, the final six young ladies were Misses Emily Louise Eble Nelson, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Albert James Nelson IV; Elizabeth Hayne Rudolf, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Bailey Rudolf; Lily Reiss Saer, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Hayes Saer, and the sister of yet another 2014 Jeune Monsieur, Matthew Saer; Torre Aitken Sossaman, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Patrick Sossaman; Rosemary Conrad Turner, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John McDuffie Turner Jr.; and Meredith Anita Tufton, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Peter Michael Tufton. All the fathers sported smiles, but Dr. Tufton’s was especially broad. This was his fifth (and last) daughter to make her debut.

With the arrival and assemblage of all the debutantes on stage, emcee Mark Romig announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, les Jeunes Filles.” The cotillion of 26 then made a collective curtsy, accompanied by hearty applause. The next step was just that: steps. The debutantes descended the stage to dance with their fathers to “Thank Heaven for Little Girls.”

Formalities concluded, the families of the debs received at their individual tables as guests approached to extend their compliments. Within the coterie, there were family relationships and many of the debs have been childhood friends.

Paul Lacour demonstrated his tasteful touch once again for Le Debut, providing the flowers and general décor. The backdrop on the stage was a lush black-green. In front were three white, pyramid-pointed structures with pinpoint lights inside, along with greenery, a brace of lattice pedestals, and floral arrangements. Two prominent white swags and square chandeliers of translucent white fabric dripping with crystals hung from the ballroom’s ceiling.

White cloths topped the individual round tables. They were centered with flowers in greens and pinks that were placed in silver vases.

The breakfast buffet punctuated the evening that combined the presentation, general hobnobbing and dancing. Scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, sausages, fruit and homemade waffles sated the late-night appetite.

Heeding the call of the Ivories were several generational sets, who partnered on the dance floor to familiar tunes. “Here’s one from the ’60s,” announced Deacon John, who will be hearing “Happy Birthday” directed to him for his 75 years.

With the presentation of Le Debut des Jeunes Filles, the official debutante season is now launched and dozens of young women, along with their kin and kith, will relish the myriad related activities. The above Sarah McLellan, who’s called Sadie, and her father processed to “The Best Is Yet to Come.” Certainly, the activity of Le Debut will be joyfully remembered as will be all the forthcoming thrills of the season’s next eight months.