One of the highlights of my holiday season was being invited to the Holly Ball. Never heard of it? That’s because it is a debutante ball in Cleveland, Tennessee. I went to see my niece, the lovely and beautiful, Caitlin Robbins, presented to a crowded ballroom wearing a gorgeous gown from Village Bridal in Nashville. What appealed to me most about Caitlin’s dress (other than how pretty she looked) was the simple, classic lines. Village Bridal is s little treasure found in Hillsboro Village. The owner, Elizabeth Gorodesky, gets some mixed customer reviews because she’s just sooooo honest. Frankly, I like honesty. She is a both a designer and a seamstress and her store has a HUGE selection of evening dresses. Elizabeth is not going to let you out of her store unless you look MARVELOUS. Her sales are fabulous too.
Ever wondered where the tradition of “coming out” as a debutante started? Here is a condensed version of the story: The origin of the word debutante comes from the French and means “lead off”. As most of our customs in the US, the debutante tradition came from the British. It was a way for British aristocracy to introduce their daughters to potential suitors with hopes of a pledge of matrimony. The stakes were high since each fair maiden came with a ton of loot or a dowry and the bevy of boys wasn’t . So, the rich loaded up their gear (servants, trunks, farm animals and such) and headed to the city right after the hunting season was over. We all know the real hunt was just beginning…the hunt for a man.
The notion of presenting your daughter to society in the US began in 1748 in Philadelphia. The colonial families of the city, all 59 of them, held dancing assemblies— the forerunner to what we know of now as the Debutante Ball. The tradition continues in the US today with the Debutante Balls usually held in November through January. Nashville’s own Bal d’ Hiver and the Eve of Janus hold their places in the Nashville’s society pages. I’m not sure today whether we’re in it for the suitor or just to throw a damn good party. Probably a little of both.
Most debutante balls require the young woman to wear white, not ivory — a nod to their beauty, purity and virginal qualities. I like the tradition because, it’s just that — a tradition. But some countries do it differently which is why I couldn’t resist showing you how the Parisians do it.
In Paris, Le Bal is held at the simply gorgeous Hotel de Crillion build under the watch of Louis XV in 1775. It is THE debutante ball in France. Debs come from all over the world and this year, two well-known Americans were there — Jane Aldridge and Autumn Whitaker. Jane and her mother Judy write two of the most popular blogs worldwide: Atlantis Home and Sea of Shoes.
The Le Bal Crillion des Debutantes is a catwalk of endless creativity and inspiration as each of the top couture houses design gowns for the debs. What a great idea! Jewelers laden the girls with their opulent gems making us all simply drool at the result. Who can resist the dresses from this years’ Le Ball. I sure can’t as they are simply EXQUISITE!
Whether you have a deb ready to hit the runway or if you’re like me with a couple in training, I hope this post inspires you to go forth with COURAGE.