Since the International Debutante Ball launched in 1954, there has always been a strong Texas presence. It will be that way again Thursday night in the Grand Ballroom of the Pierre Hotel in New York as four Houstonians are among the 46 women representing 13 states and several foreign nations, including China and Canada, at the 62nd annual ball.
During a time when so many traditions have fallen by the wayside, the debutante ball appears to be thriving. Especially when presidential politics have reach new lows, the idea of “civility,” “grace,” “manners,” and “tradition” has a special appeal.
In Houston, the debutante tradition continues with annual presentations by the Allegro Association of Houston, River Oaks Country Club, Jack and Jill Houston Chapter, and the Momus Crew at Mardi Gras in Galveston. I am headed to Mobile, Alabama, this week to see my cousin's daughter make her debut, along with 46 college-age women in the Southern city that thrives on Mardi Gras traditions. The dress code is "French, de rigueur," which means the ladies must ballgowns that touch the floor and the men must be attired in white tie and tails.
In New York the dress code will be the same, and all 14 women who hail from the Lone Star State at the ball will maintain the tradition of a curtsy known as the "Texas Dip," in which the debutante bows her head nearly to the ground with her arms outstretched to either side.
Deb balls were traditionally organized for affluent young women to meet potential suitors, but today's debutantes are accomplished women who have graduated or will soon graduate from college and look to the experience to make professional contacts with people across the nation and around the world at the ball, as well as honoring family traditions, and having fun.
The four Houston women who will make their debuts in New York are:
- Anastacia Christina Moss, a junior in the School of Public Affairs at the American University in Washington, D.C. with interests in politics, women's advocacy, and social justice. Her mother and her aunt made their Texas bows at the International Debutante Ball.
- Brindley Elizabeth Mize, a sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin majoring in marketing at the McCombs School of Business. She is a member of Pi Beta Phi Sorority and a Texas Cowboys Sweetheart.
- Kittsie Anne Klaes, a student at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, where she has served as the school president of the Department of Film and Music, and debuted a short film at the Cannes Films Festival.
- Elizabeth Anne Carl, a student at Texas A&M University who is a member of Tri Delta Sorority and a tireless fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
All debutantes will wear white or ivory gowns. Carl has chosen an Octavia by Vera Wang strapless sweetheart ball gown with a hand-gathered tulle bodice and ruched tulle technique overlay. Mize has selected an Oscar de la Renta ball gown with an overlay of embroidered tulle corseting of floral lace.
Moss will wear wear a custom-designed gown with a white lace bodice and sweetheart neckline, ruffled organza skirt and a sheer back with lace embroidery and a single row of buttons down the spine. Klaes has chosen a satin ball gown encrusted with a beaded bodice and beaded appliqué by New York-based designer Ysa Makino.