“Ladies and gentlemen, les Jeunes Filles.” Hearty applause followed the announcement of master of ceremonies Mark Romig as the 29 young ladies presented by Le Debut des Jeunes Filles de la Nouvelle-Orleans curtsied in unison. At the beginning of the formalities in the Grand Ballroom of the New Orleans Hilton Riverside, he had requested that the audience, which was made up of appreciative kin and kith, withhold their applause until the end. The collective curtsy invited a full ovation.
The next step was just that: steps. The debutantes descended the stage to take a turn on the dance floor with their fathers to “Thank Heaven for Little Girls.”
With Le Debut’s presentation, the 2016-17 debutante season is officially opened. The first formal curtsies of the year took place then, but quite a few of the young women who will be limelighted this year have made formal bows with sub-deb organizations.
Four young men, who are called les Jeunes Messieurs, were the first to appear. They were 2nd Lt. William Pierce Freeman, USA, son of Mr. and Mrs. Louis McDaniel Freeman Jr.; and Messrs. Taylor St. Paul Jacobs, son of Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Robert Henri Jacobs; Allen McMillen Kuhn Jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. Allen McMillen Kuhn; and Andrew McGowen Pointer, son of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Joiner Pointer.
The program started patriotically with the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by the evening’s band, Deacon John and the Ivories. Mark Romig then announced the arrival of les Jeunes Messieurs and they strode the length of the ballroom. Seated on either side of them were the mothers of the presentees, 29 debutantes of the season who will culminate on Shrove Tuesday of 2017.
Stating that it was his pleasure to introduce the debutantes, Mark Romig issued a cue for the start of the presentation. The debutantes processed with their fathers as escorts. Along the way to the stage, where they were greeted by the young men, the debs halted to acknowledge their proud 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.
As the first deb to catch the spotlight, the name to know was Miss Mary Dalton Acomb, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Ryan Acomb. Her song, “Isn’t She Lovely” was the musical harbinger for not only herself, but for all those presented. Mary, 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.
The subsequent debutantes were Misses Emily Smith Adams, daughter of Mr. Jesse Roland Adams III and Mrs. Joshua Edward Lowentritt; Catherine Lapeyre Barry, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Owen Barry; to the tune “Sweet Caroline,” Caroline Elizabeth Brinson, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Steven David Brinson (and one of the evening’s several Carolines); Mary Nolan Brown, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Michael James Brown; Charlotte Villars Delery, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Oliver Stanislaus Delery Jr.; and Emily Dickson Ellis, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Conner Ellis III.
Then came Misses Caroline Walmsley Favrot, daughter of Mr. James Parkhurst Favrot and the late Mrs. Favrot; Elizabeth Fenner French, daughter of Mr. Hardie Christian French and Mrs. Lloyd Eades Hogue and stepdaughter of Mrs. French and Mr. Hogue; Annalee DesMare Gardner, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Russell Gardner; Anne Bailey Girault, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Marshall Girault Jr.; and Caroline Chapman Hewitt, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Stewart Hewitt.
And, Misses Margaret Elisabeth Hoefer, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Karl Ernst Hoefer; Anna Eugenie Huger, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James Middleton Huger; Catherine Franklin Hughs, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Jude Semmes Hughs; Caroline Emily Lane, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Merritt Lane III; Mary Lucy Lapeyre, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Stephen Lapeyre; Alexandra Suzanne LeJeune, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Horace Baltzer LeJeune; and Eleanor Grace Masinter, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Paul James Masinter.
To the tune of “Dancing in the Moonlight,” Miss Madison Colleen Mikes, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Steven Joseph Mikes, processed with her father. They were followed by Misses Rachael Roberts Moss, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Elias Moss II; Susan Shelbourne Pointer, sister of Jeune Monsieur Andrew and daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Pointer; Elizabeth Flower Redd, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Edmund England Redd; and Erin Curry Reily, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James Harrington Reily.
The subsequent fivesome were Misses Avery Scott Rowan, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Forney Rowan Jr.; Olivia Louise Rufty, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Jackson Rufty III; Rachel Elizabeth Schulingkamp, daughter of Mr. David Paul Schulingkamp and Mrs. Miriam A. Schulingkamp; Virginia Parker Stewart, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Gordon Stewart; and Eugenie Hill Walk, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Edmond Wade Walk. Her song, one that described many of the evening’s debs, was “Brown Eyed Girl.”
After the above-mentioned group curtsy and the dance to “Thank Heaven for Little Girls,” the formalities were concluded. Then 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’ childhood friends. Quite a few of the mothers, aunts and grandmothers of the Jeunes Filles were debutantes themselves.
Once again at Le Debut, Paul Lacour extended his tasteful touch and provided the flowers and general décor. The backdrop on the stage was a deep 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 five 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, such as white roses, and greenery that were placed in silver-flecked vases. The breakfast buffet punctuated the evening that combined the presentation, general milling about and dancing. Crispy bacon, sausages, scrambled eggs, fruit and homemade waffles sated the late-night appetite.
Heeding the call of Deacon John and the Ivories, the younger set headed forward as the hours approached midnight for a romp on the dance floor. Happy grooving ensued for the Marvin Gaye-Tammi Terrell “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and The Commodores’ “Brick House.”
With the presentation of Le Debut des Jeunes Filles and the season’s first notable curtsies, the formal launching of the young ladies has begun. Dozens of debs, along with their nearest and dearest, will relish the myriad related activities to come. Miss Pointer’s song, “The Way You Look Tonight,” embraced both her and her coterie comrades, and anticipated lovely looks and ladies, who will capture the social eye for the next eight months.