Recession or no, there was no shortage of swells willing to shell out $14,000 for a table at the International Debutante Ball at the Waldorf=Astoria in New York the other night. 47 debutantes in white gowns were presented at the ball, " a holdover from an era when the daughters of the upper crust were presented to society as a preface to meeting suitable mates," the International Herald Tribune notes. They included European aristocrats and scions of American families from the Social Register. Some guests tried to rationalize the expenditure. "It is extravagant, but I felt it was important for my daughter, and things might get worse," one noted. Another explained, "There are a lot of waiters working tonight, so it's doing something for the economy."
Each debutante's family pays $14,000 for a table as well as thousands of dollars for couture gowns, hairdressers and related expenses for the Ball, which was founded in 1954, the paper reports. Each deb is paired with a civilian escort in white tails and a military cadet in a dress uniform. Proceeds benefit the Soldiers', Sailors', Marines', Coast Guard and Airmen's Club, a charitable organization that provides accommodations to military families visiting New York. Maria Irini Rizos, of Corfu, Greece, a self-described descendant of Venetian nobility, told the IHT she participated in the ball because "I want to meet international friends and have contacts with people from different countries."