Log In   ·   Become A Member

Debs In White Satin: Modern Glamor At The International Debutante Ball

Lee Fryd

Debutantes at the 2015 International Debutante Ball pose for the iconic group shot prior to their bow. (Photo: PatrickMcMullan.com)

Leah Lane, a confection of white tulle in an Oleg Cassini gown, with a skirt as wide as she was tall, steadied herself in her heels, slipped her hand into escort Cole Rumbough's arm and began the long walk up the Waldorf Astoria Ballroom to be presented at the International Debutante Ball.

Leah Lane and her escort Cole Rumbough. (Photo: PatrickMcMullan.com)

"The way she swirled that dress around in the podium," said Dad, Stewart Lane, "we'll talk about it for years to come." Mom Bonnie Comley, watching two handsome cadets compete for a dance with her, mock wailed, "My baby is grown up."

Anne Werdiger, Alexandra Wait, Stirling deVere Smith, Alexandra Rose, Caroline McCown, and Leah Lane were among the young ladies in gorgeous white gowns making their New York debut at the Waldorf-Astoria. (Photo: PatrickMcMullan.com)

"This is your fairy tale evening," Cole gushed. Leah certainly looked like a princess. But, inside, she was just feeling relieved that she had made it up the stairs and executed her curtsey without falling. That, Leah told us, seemed to be a great fear of many of the Debs, and an initial bonding topic in the lunches and cocktail parties encircling the event, designed to help form lifetime friendships.

"I'm still close to so many of the girls from my year," former Deb Nicole DiCocco told us. Debs return dressed in traditional red or black strapless gowns with poufed skirts. The swirl of young women in white, red, and black, cadets in full military dress, and men in white tie and tails give the evening the unparalleled look of, yes, a fairy tale, or at least the season finale of "Downton Abbey."

As a former Deb, Nicole DiCocco, here with Mary Catherine Burdine and Joy Nova Jones, wore the traditional red gown to this year's ball. (Photo: PatrickMcMullan.com)

Leah said spending the day at a New York Post photo shoot with the other New York girls — Palmer Smith, Meredith Kresic, Caroline Heart McCown, and Alexandra Rose (of Watermill residents Dr. and Mrs. Donald Rose) — drew them together.

Mrs. Gregory Scott Hedberg, whose aunt, Beatrice Denser Joyce, founded the ball in 1954, serves as Director and General Chairman. This year, the Honorary Chairmen were Ms. Anne Eisenhower, Mrs. David R. Hamilton, and Ms. Julia Irene Kaufman, of Kansas City, whose daughter Brittany Muriel-Marion LaPointe, made her debut this year.

International Debutante Ball Director Margaret Hedberg (center) with honorary chairwomen Julia Kaufman and Anne Eisenhower. (Photo: PatrickMcMullan.com)

"It's a new thing for Stew and me and we're thrilled to be part of it," Bonnie said. "Hopefully if Leah has a daughter, she'll do it too." The Lanes are Broadway Producers with nine Tony Awards between them and an East Hampton estate. Getting Leah into the International Debutante Ball was an aspirational musing that ended up being easily accomplished.

Leah said, "The Ball celebrates and empowers women and we don't do that enough."

Leah Lane and her father, Broadway producer Stewart Lane, gracefully twirled across the dance floor during the International Debutante Ball. (Photo: PatrickMcMullan.com)

"In so many cultures it's all about the male heirs and the dynasties," added Bonnie. "This is about being young, accomplished women." Bonnie pointed to the African Behold Ceremony, commemorated in The Lion King (we are talking about Broadway producers) and a Martin Luther King Atlanta memorial statue. "Behold, the only thing more powerful than yourself," the parent says to the child as he holds it up to the sky. "That's the message we're sending them off with in the Debutante Ball," Bonnie said. "You happen to be a child of advantage, make use of it. As a parent, I believe that happiness is a skill. It's not about money. Whatever they choose to do, they should appreciate what they have and live a purposeful life." For Leah, right now, that means going into the family business, and becoming a show biz hyphenate -- as in actor-writer-director. She's already spent a summer at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, and hopes to continue those studies.

For one family member, however, the Deb Ball's original meaning — as of marriageable age, is seared in his psyche.

"I've got the shotgun right here." Stew said.

"Metaphorically speaking," added Bonnie.

The debutantes of 2014. (Photo: PatrickMcMullan.com)

Related Articles:

Be the first to comment on this article. (Just fill out the form below)

Submit Your Comment

Please note, you are not currently logged in. Your comment will be submitted as a guest.
To submit your comment as a member, please click here.
Your Name:
* Comments will be reviewed and posted in a timely fashion
* All fields are required
Please type the word 'water'
(For spam prevention, thanks)
Rosehip Partners Real Estate
Properties In The Hamptons

East End Tick Control
The East End's only New York State licensed dedicated tick and mosquito control specialists!

Southampton Masonry-Visiting the Southampton or the Wainscott locations is an exciting experience.
Southampton Masonry has been serving Long Island's masonry and tile needs since 1975. Delivering quality products from Manhattan to Montauk for over three decades. The company's continued success is due primarily to their number one priority: customer satisfaction, with a promise of prompt and courteous service from the professional, knowledgeable staff. Southampton Masonry has the largest inventory on the east end. As direct importers they can offer a large variety of the finest quality products at the most competitive pricing for both your interior and exterior projects.

New York Title Abstract Services, Inc.
We are a title insurance services company dedicated to promptly delivering fully compliant and accurate reports, and title insurance, for residential and commercial real estate throughout New York State. Headquartered in the Hamptons, our professional team has extensive real estate experience and understands the business from all sides including title insurance, legal, sales, governmental, banking, and lending regulations.

Hamilton Hoge
As the owner’s representative our practice encompasses all aspects of a project from pre-purchase property due diligence, program development iterations, advisement on systems, analyze contracts/vendors, critical path analysis, feasibility and schedule. The strength of our approach is in facilitating organized communication. We strongly analyze all representations and warranties for the protection and benefit of our client.

The Citarella Standard. We’re passionate about sourcing and selling the world’s best seafood. When you order our fresh seafood online, what you receive always reflects the unrivaled standard of our markets. It’s hand-prepared, never frozen, and shipped overnight. 631-283-6600.