Young women from around the world put on a dazzling display last night as they attended the 68th International Debutante Ball at the Plaza Hotel in New York. The event, which has been described as ‘patriotic’ and a ‘traditional family occasion,’ is a mainstay of the city’s social scene and considered one of the most prestigious events of its kind.
And attendance does not come cheap, with the entry fee for previous years reportedly exceeding $20,000, and debutantes also having to splash out on expensive frocks from designers including Vera Wang, jewellery, and hair and make-up. Pictured: Maria Knasel from Naples, Florida and Jacob Poling from Mercer Island, Washington.
The invitation-only bash, which introduces well-connected young women to high society, last night saw more than 20 debutantes representing Belgium, England, France, Greece, Iran, Scotland, and five American states.
Among them were Arabella Francesca Pierson Sainty representing England, as well as Sophie Drummond-Herdman and Violet Drummond of Megginch of Scotland alongside others.
Donning dazzling white gowns, they made their society debut in style, adding white gloves and sparkling jewels to their outfits for a touch of bling. Only the debutantes are permitted to sport white for the evening.
They were each accompanied by an escort, who were all smartly decked out in full evening dress – black tail coat, black trousers, white shirt with pique front, white pique vest, white tie and white gloves.
Escorts can be a brother, family member or close family friend around her age, or the committee can assign escorts.
The dress code for their fathers is the same, with full evening dress required, though no white gloves.
According to the International Debutante organisation, last night’s evening began with the receiving line in the Terrace Room Balcony.
Here, the debutantes met with guests, while photos were snapped both candidly and for the press.
After the receiving lines, attendees moved into the Plaza’s Terrace Room, where they enjoyed cocktails. Then, after dinner and dancing, the debutantes were presented, one at a time, accompanied by their escorts, as well as orchestral music chosen to represent the country or state they represented.
Founded in 1954 by Beatrice Dinsmore Joyce, the ball has welcomed debutantes from 75 countries over the years. The majority of attendees hail from the U.S., with France, England, Italy and Germany then being represented most frequently.
Among the high society guests to have graced the ball are daughters and granddaughters of United States Presidents and United States representatives.
They include the three granddaughters and four great-granddaughters of President Eisenhower, both daughters and one granddaughter of President Nixon, two granddaughters of President Johnson and one granddaughter of President Bush.
In order to snag an invitation to the ball, debutantes must be recommended by a previous debutante of the event. They then must also be accepted by the Chairmen of the Debutante Committee of the International Debutante Ball – as well as being able to afford the debutante presentation fee.
This has previously been reported to be around $22,000, which the ladies must pay to be a part of the event, which is a benefit for a number of charities, including the Soldiers’, Sailors’, Marines’, Coast Guard and Airmen’s Club of New York City.
These expenses, combined with the costs of travel, accommodations and tickets for friends and family make the evening a costly one.
However, one thing the ladies do not have to worry about paying for though are their male escorts for the evening. Pictured: U.S. Army Captain Michael Willis is photographed in his finery at last night’s glamorous event in New York.
Fathers of the debutantes are also required to don formal wear, including tails. Pictured: Guy Stair Sainty, the father of Debutante Miss Arabella Sainty from England.
In the past, they were provided by West Point but now must be obtained by the families of the young women, though the Ball’s directors are happy to help with that task.
To be selected for the ball, debutantes must be ‘women of distinction’, who come from well-connected families, and are accomplished in athletics, community service, academics, philanthropy and charity.
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