Thursday, December 29, 2016

Throwing a ball

Sunbathing in the Tuileries Garden in Paris. 3:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Thursday, December 29, 2016.  Colder in New York yesterday, with temps in the low 40s, compared to the mid-60s on Tuesday. Colder and grey as if Mother Nature was predicting snow. Probably not but always nice to consider. JH is in Paris where the weather is similar but warmer and energizing.

Margaret Hedberg and Anne Eisenhower
T’is the season. Tonight the 62nd annual International Debutante Ball will be held at the Pierre. A colorful and patriotic event, the Ball was founded in 1954 by Beatrice Dinsmore Joyce and since 1983, her niece Margaret Hedberg has continued as General Chairman.

For six decades, the International Debutante Ball Foundation has benefitted numerous charities, primarily the Soldiers’, Sailors’, Marines’, Coast Guard and Airmen’s Club of New York City, which for over ninety-five years has provided a home away from home for young men and women of our Armed Forces and those of our Allies.

One of the loveliest and most enjoyable family occasions of the New York social season, the Ball provides young men and women from all over the world with the opportunity to meet one another. Daughters and granddaughters and great-granddaughters of United States Presidents and United States representatives who have made their debut at the ball have included 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, as well as daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Malcolm Steve Forbes, Jr. and Mr. and Mrs. Christopher C. Forbes. Families of ambassadors, nobility, as well as businessmen and women have all attended the Ball.
Julie Eisenhower Nixon at the International Debutante Ball in 1966. Her escort was David Eisenhower whom she married two years later.
The Ball has become a great Eisenhower family tradition. Mamie Eisenhower attended in 1967 when her granddaughter Anne Eisenhower came out, and in 1970 for Susan Eisenhower’s ball, and again in 1973 for her granddaughter Mary’s debut. David Eisenhower escorted Julie Nixon when she came out in 1966. They married in 1968.
Lynda Bird Johnson Robb and her husband former Governor Chuck Robb with their youngest daughter Jennifer Wickliffe Robb at the International Debutante Ball.
Anne Eisenhower made her debut at this ball many moons ago, as did her daughter, her two sisters, two nieces and her sister-in-law Julie Nixon Eisenhower. The 1967 Ball was especially memorable to her as she was one of the first to go on stage at a time when the Ball was broadcast live. Having skipped meals that day because of rehearsals and a hair appointment, as she stepped onstage that evening, the heat of the television lights overwhelmed her and she fainted mid deb presentations. Her escort Don Stolper (who was her brother David’s roommate at Amherst), assisted by Jackie Astor (Drexel) who was representing New York, managed to get Anne backstage where there were smelling salts. Once revived, the young deb was back on stage and back at the party. 
Former first lady Mamie Eisenhower at the 1970 ball with (from left) Margaret Woodward Bancroft, granddaughter Susan Eisenhower, grandson David Eisenhower, and Julie Nixon.
Mamie Eisenhower (right) has attended the ball three times to see her granddaughters presented.
This year another Eisenhower great-granddaughter, Camila Mendoza Echavarria, granddaughter of Anne Eisenhower will make her debut at the ball. Ms. Echavarria’s mother Adrianna Echavarria Eisenhower came out in 1987. Camila attended the Chapin School but spent her last year at Colegio Nueva Granada in Bogota where she graduated. She has just completed her first semester at The Sarah Lawrence College. Her father Eduardo Mendoza De la Torre is a Vice President of Avianca Airlines.  He was Vice Minister of Justice of Colombia under President Cesar Gaviria and is the only living person to testify against the drug lord, Pablo Escobar (he is portrayed in the TV series Narcos).

The majority of the debutantes come from the United States, although each year about one quarter of the young women come from abroad. They often form lasting friendships with their American counterparts. In total, seventy-five countries have been represented at the Ball, with France, England, Italy and Germany being represented most frequently.
Camila Mendoza Echavarria.
To celebrate the holiday season, Cornelia Guest and Leesa Rowland orchestrated a holiday party at the home of R. Couri Hay to benefit Animal Ashram, a charity that helps homeless pets. The Humane Society of New York (HSNY) brought perfectly behaved, adoptable dogs to the fete and Guest, a longtime supporter of HSNY, created a delicious vegan menu for the festive evening and was seen stirring pots in the kitchen. In addition to her designing, acting and catering businesses, Cornelia is very busy fostering and sheltering abandoned animals including miniature ponies at her farm in upstate New York where she also keeps her rescued dogs.
Cornelia Guest stands by the Maggie Norris-designed 12-foot tree.
Guests included Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia, Alexandra Lebenthal, Sharon Bush, Larry Wohl, Jennifer Creel, artists Peter Max and Robert Cenedella, Somers and Jonathan Farkas, Janna Bullock with her daughter, Eugenia and Emanuele Fiore; Geoffrey Bradfield and his Yorkie Mr. Willoughby, Chef Tim Kensett of Storico, Florence and Richard Fabricant and Tinsley Mortimer.

Maggie Norris created the magical décor that started with snow banked steps with gold dust sprinkled on top leading into the town house. She decked the halls with garlands and wreaths tied with gold bows, and centered the main floor with a 12-foot tree with all the trimmings for guests to leave soft toys and blankets to be donated to local animal shelters. The party was themed ‘Gold, Glam or Glitter’ and Lucia Hwong Gordon, Jean Shafiroff, Jane Scher, Cindy Guyer, Jason Lyon, Bridgette Morphew and many more. 
Cornelia Guest in the kitchen.
Cornelia turned the ground floor into twin dining rooms lit by dual fireplaces. Two buffets, placed in a green and white stripped tent in the garden, offered up a meatless Shepherd’s Pie,a Mushroom Pasta made with Truffles from Urabani, Wheatberry Salad with Beets and Pumpkin Seeds, Roasted Squash Winter Quinoa Salad and a Green Salad with Roasted Almonds Scallions and Microgreens. For dessert she made Pecan Pies topped with dairy free vanilla ice cream that she paired with Dom Ruinart Champagne and Whispering Angel Rose. Despite Miss Guest’s protests, naughty Couri had Chef Josh Tanner of present a selection of grilled Kobe and Wagyu steak cuts for the carnivores attending. 
R. Couri Hay, Leesa Rowland, and Vic Banker.
After dinner, guests moved to the music room to sing carols around the Steinway baby grand and nibble on Cornelia’s chocolate chip cookies. Also in the mix were Consuelo Vanderbilt Costin and her husband Rafael Feldman, Patrick McMullan, Dr. Christopher Calapai, Sasha Lloyd and Couri’s godson James Francis Ginty, Erik Bottcher and JD Thompson, Herb Karlitz, Roy Kean, Rocco Ancarola and Sonja Morgan.
Stephanie Mattera with Jennifer Quinones and adoptable dogs from the NY Humane Society.
Larry Wohl and Leesa Rowland. Jonathan and Somers Farkas.
Bart Colom and Jennifer Creel.
Janna Bullock, Jessica Nicholls, and Eugenia Bullock.
Emanuele Flore.
Jean Shafiroff and Lucia Hwong Gordon.
Sibylle Eschapasse and Patrick McMullan.
Tinsley Mortimer and Geoffrey Bradfield. Marisol Solano and Tim Kensett.
Florence and Richard Fabricant.
Sharon Bush and Peter Max. Consuelo Vanderbilt Costin and Rafael Feldman.
Denise Finnegan, Elliott Heller, and Cindy Guyer.
Gary Rombough, Jane Scher, and John Mesa.
Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia and Alexandra Lebenthal.

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