At the recent ball of the Mystic Club all eyes turned to a solitary figure, who was immediately spotlighted. It was her majesty, the queen of the Mystic Club, in her portrayal of Grace Patricia Kelly. The daughter of a prominent and wealthy family from Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, and an Oscar-winning actress, Grace Kelly was, as depicted at Mystic, marrying Prince Rainier III of Monaco in a fairy tale wedding. It was April 1956 and, after their civil ceremony, they were about to swap vows in Monaco’s St. Nicholas Cathedral in a lavish ceremony.
The Mystic Club recalled the formal gathering for the 600 guests who would be attending the church wedding. Sharon Parker Talley, Mrs. Patrick Albert Talley Jr., was hailed as both the queen and the bride, the soon-to-be Princess Grace. She was garbed for the gala Carnival ball, which unfolded in the Hilton Hotel, in a gown of vintage silver blue silk satin with large embroidered roses cascading down the side of the full skirt. In her hair was a comb ornamented with rhinestone flowers, while in her hand was a nosegay. Compliments flowed all evening on her poise and attire.
As was her majesty, the six ladies in waiting wore gowns in the fashion of the mid-1950s, embellished their coiffures with ornamental combs, and carried magnificent, glittery evening bags of the era. Mary Williams created the beautiful, and much praised, gowns. Lynn Box, Mrs. Beau James Box, was radiant in a design of pink and yellow silk taffeta in her role of Princess Astrid of Norway. As Grand Duchess Josephine Charlotte of Luxembourg, Elizabeth Bush, Mrs. Albert Peyton Bush IV, donned a gown of orange sherbet colored brocade. For Jenny Charpentier, Mrs. John Jay Charpentier, as Princess Ileana of Romania, a striped silk mode of fuchsia, purple and lavender was chosen.
Princess Margaret of Bourbon was portrayed by Mimi Dossett, Mrs. William Kethley Dossett, wearing a strapless creation of pink satin brocade. Princess Margaretha of Sweden was played by Rachael Gambel, Mrs. William Christian Gambel Jr., who was garbed in a gown of fuchsia silk satin. Ferrin Mavar, Mrs. Geoffrey Paul Mavar, assumed the guise of Princess Georgina of Liechtenstein, in her look of pale pink silk satin with large hand-painted roses on the skirt.
In his role as Prince Rainier of Monaco, the Mystic Club king was attired in a uniform consisting of a red, hip-length jacket, French blue trousers, and a red, white and gold sash. He carried the heirloom sword of the family. Outfitted splendidly, as well, were the captain and his aides, the lieutenants, the husbands of the ladies in waiting, and the queen’s spouse, who appeared as a Roman Catholic cardinal. All of the men’s outfits were by Royal Design House.
Wearing white debutante gowns to be presented to Their Majesties were Misses Grace Allen Gambel (who had just reigned at The Atlanteans), Elizabeth Lynn Lunn and Isabella Rawson Mathes, whose parents are the above Mr. and Mrs. Gambel, Dr. and Mrs. William Wilburn Lunn, and Mr. Melvin William Mathes and Ms. Marion Hardie Mathes.
Yet another stunning visual creation was the Cathedral, as drawn by artist Patricia Hardin, on the cover of the tri-fold program. All the while, the Mystic gaze was on the stage setting, which featured a backdrop of a grand staircase with gold drapery on either side, a gilded throne, and four profusions of lush flowers. The krewe favor, a pin, was a poodle, the dog cherished by Grace.
Prior to the ball in the Hilton’s Grand Ballroom, guests gathered for a reception across the way. Then it was on to the ballroom for the tableau, dancing and dinner. Appropriately, the Jimmy Maxwell Orchestra played such period tunes as “True Love” by Cole Porter for the queen’s entrance. A wedge salad with Leidenheimer mini baguettes and rolls, braised short ribs and dessert (chocolate decadence, apple dulce de leche tarte) set the menu, each with a paired wine. The centerpieces, smaller versions of the above larger ones, were placed in silver Revere bowls.
Prior to dinner and during the tableau, the orchestra played “High Society.” The song recalled Grace Kelly’s role as Tracy Lord in the romantic musical of that name about her impending wedding. It also was indicative of the real-life circle she then entered with her marriage to Rainier and the title of Princess that ensued.
In August 1909, the Russian Tsar and Tsarina, Nicolas II (Nikolai Alexandrovich Romanov) and Alexandra Feodorovna (Alix of Hesse and by Rhine), and the Imperial family visited Cowes, England, to view the races held by the Royal Yacht Squadron. This visit was commemorated with a large contingent of the British and Imperial Russian naval fleets participating in the State festivities. Later, Anglo-Russian friendship and world peace was toasted at an elaborate dinner.
“The Imperial Week Visit to Cowe’s Race Week” titled the 2019 Imperial Reception of Alexis, which uses a Russian theme for its annual Carnival-period gallivanting. The venue was the New Orleans Country Club. Portraying the Tsarina was Sarah Ann Lowman, while Peggy Lacoste Baxter (Mrs. Jeffrey Coates Baxter) and Michelle Guerin Graf (Mrs. Tomas P. Graf) were the grand duchesses, escorted in turn, by Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich and Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich. Following tradition at Alexis, the identities of the tsar and the grand dukes were not revealed.
After the entrance of the Alexis Captain to “The Russian March” with Deacon John and the Ivories as the orchestra, the tsar, the grand dukes and the duchesses appeared. Then came the tsarina, Ms. Lowman, who was stunning in a regal period gown of French white silk satin with a floral design. Embellishment of gold trim and Swarovski crystals, an underskirt of handpainted French silk organza, a royal blue Russian cape and a train bearing the Romanov double-headed eagle crest were further features. Perla Orihuela designed the gown and mantle.
Special guests of the Alexis tsarina were her consort, Dr. Frederic C. Querens, her mother, Mrs. Henry R. Glass Jr.; and additional guests Mimi and John Farrell, Carolyn Peterson Richter, Jill Levy Kaliff, Louise Dabezies and Peter Hunley, Dr. Alan and Laura Querens, Gail Gardner Farrell and Tommy Farrell, Stuart and Shaun Weese, Pierre de La Barre, Kris Langdon Wartelle and Bruce and Lisa Wilson.
Concerning the staging, the double eagle crest was prominent above the dais. On the dais and at the honorees’ tables, arrangements of red roses were strategically placed.
The returning 2018 court included her majesty Mrs. Jason Matthew Marek, Heather, the tsarina, and Mmes. John T. Lambert and Tim G. Peterson, Cynthia and Charlene, the grand duchesses. After their procession, the Komenka Dance Ensemble performed and a reenactment of the 1909 His Majesty’s Cup sailboat race between the cutter White Heather II and the Kaiser’s schooner Meteor occurred. The Imperial March to “The Radetsky March” closed the pageantry.
Board members and other notables included Mrs. Leonard K. Nicholson, Dr. and Mrs. Robert L. Carter, Dr. and Mrs. Tim G. Peterson, Mr. and Mrs. Shannon Walgamotte (Lynda Moreau), Dr. and Mrs. Alan Sheen, Mr. and Mrs. Trevor Walker, Mr. and Mrs. Dieter Michael Hugel, Mr. and Mrs. Michael T. Gray, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Seba, Mr. and Mrs. Eric S. Berger, and Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Edwin Stacey. They applauded the pageantry and the Komenka Ensemble’s costumes and dances.
A dinner feast made the tasty transition from the presentation to pleasures of the table and gustatory bonhomie. All the while, Deacon John kept up the musical pace as attendees made their own paces to congratulate tsarina Sarah and Mmes. Baxter and Graf, who, as did the gathering, relished Race Week and its choice reenactment by Alexis.