It’s the time of year when debbies pop up like spring blossoms in winter, bowing and preening at private parties at home and grand balls in grand ballrooms, slipping into their prettiest white dresses and gloves and smiling as bravely as possible as they are presented to their little world. The idea is they are making their debut, coming out into what is still called society. A tradition that still lives on, one of the few, it is a most exciting moment in their young lives, one they will always remember.
Along those lines, the bouncy International Debutante Ball will burst forth on Dec. 29 in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf, celebrating its 42nd year of introducing international buds from all over in a fete of pink and silver. Coined the “fun ball,” this year’s gala will honor 31 darlings from here and abroad including pretty things from Bulgaria, Egypt, France, Germany, Portugal and Scotland, plus 25 American maidens representing 11 states from Alabama to Virginia.
As usual, Count and Countess Nicholas Bobrinskoy will decorate the ballroom, turning it into a winter garden with snow-covered topiaries, snowflakes and twinkling lights. The boxes and balconies surrounding the room will be draped in pink, silver and burgundy and Klaus Bremer of the Waldorf is adorning the pink covered tables with lilies, roses, orchids and French tulips. In the middle of all this, Lester Lanin and his orchestra will strum, tootle, blow and drum. The chairman of the ball is Margaret Hedberg and the honorary chairman is Mrs. James (Candy) Van Alen of New York, Newport and Palm Beach. They will head the receiving line along with Mary and Ivan Obolensky, the president of the Soldiers’, Sailors’ and Airmen’s Club, which will benefit from the evening.
The procession will begin with the foreign debutantes introduced alphabetically in order of country and will be led by Jeni Pashovska, the daughter of the Bulgarian ambassador to the United Nations and Mrs. Slavi Pashovski. Following will be the Paris arrival, Dorothee de Richemont, daughter of the Vicomte and Vicomtesse Guy de Richemont, who studies law at the University of Paris and is a skilled horsewoman. Then comes Nadine Hammaman, the Egyptian entry from Cairo, Hanna-Maria Uhlenbrock from Germany and Cecila Napier from Scotland, daughter of Lady Mariota Napier and the Hon. Malcolm Napier of Perthshire. She will wear her mother’s wedding dress embroidered with pearls and diamantes and designed by the famed Norman Hartnell in 1969. She will also sport the Murray of Tullibardine tartan silk sash and be introduced into the ballroom by bagpipers playing “Scotland the Brave.”
Guests at the white-tie event will be treated to six Texas belles, Yellow Roses who will make as usual those famous Texas Dips, graceful curtsies with heads touching the floor, which you may be sure they’ve practiced all year in front of full-length mirrors to get them just right. Wouldn’t you?
Each debutante as she is presented is flanked by two escorts, a West Point cadet in uniform or an Annapolis midshipman on her left and, on her right, either an Ivy Leaguer in white tie or a cadet from Norwich University.
Deserving special mention is one of the leading girls coming out at the ball this year, Dona Diana de Cadaval of Portugal, daughter of the Duke and the beauteous Duchess of Cadaval, who boast one of the foremost Portuguese titles after the royal family, the lovely Diana being a descendant on her paternal side of a Portuguese family dating to the 15th century. A lithe 5’10”, she was formally presented two seasons ago at a ball in Lisbon given by the Duke of Braganza and at another in Paris at the Grand Hotel with the Countess of Paris present. You all remember the Countess of Paris. If the monarchy were still around in France today, she would be Queen.
As for Diana, she attended the American School in Lisbon and is presently studying at the Casa Branca. She just adores fashion, and who doesn’t know that one of the family’s closest friends is the legendary Hubert de Givenchy? Fine and dandy, but at the ball, she will be wearing an off-the-shoulder white lace beauty remodeled from one of her mother’s couture gems. As for mummy, she’s Claudine de Cadaval, a star of international society with many close friends in New York, and she will be here for Diana’s big night, wearing an Oscar de la Renta and bringing with her her 14-year-old daughter Alexandra.
Still, there is nobody like our American buds: Alexandra Flood from Hartford, Conn., in silk shantung, Melenie Orendorf from Fairfield in white satin, and Katharine Sultan from New Caanan in off-the-shoulder raw silk.
The three Floridians include Michelle Cavanaugh from Wellington; sisters Tiana and Tiffany Thayer from Boca Raton in lace and crystals and tulle and satin and silver and white beads and pearls, respectively. From New Orleans, Caroline Kurnatowski will make her bow in white satin from Priscilla of Boston, and from Boston will come Sara Westbrook in peau de soie and organza. Also wearing a Priscilla of Boston will be Melissa Berkelhammer of New York whose fellow New Yorker, Laura Denham, will wear white silk satin by Christian Dior. Dianna Fiore of Sands Point will also wear satin designed by Sarafina of New York and Milan, and Heather Silvi, a pre-med student at New York University will curtsy in French ribbon lace and satin.
Two other white satin dolls are Gayley Blaine and Nicole DiSalvo of Pennsylvania, while Anitra Fonda, the pride of Rhode Island, will shine in Venice lace and silk crepe. And not to forget Hayden McIntosh and Tara Alea Nash from South Carolina and Elizabeth Meade from Virginia and those half-dozen Texans with their swoop bows: Jordan Autrey of Austin, Brandi Banks of Amarillo, Jaclyn and Victoria Martin, sisters from Longview, Jacquelyn Presley from Palestine and Zelime Ward from Fort Worth, whose brother James Tillman Ward III will be Diana de Cadaval’s escort that night. He is 6’5″, speaks several languages, is a crack pitcher at Villanova and is now being scouted by several major league baseball teams. Catch me, I’m falling.
Suzy’s column next week will include Alice Mason’s two dinners and Duane and Mark Hampton’s lunch at Mortimer’s. She swears it will.