They attract the eyes of all the ball attendees and are generally the stars of the night, but who are they, really?
The debutantes are the young ladies dressed in white and dancing at the opening ceremonies of most balls in Vienna. The debutante tradition started in the early 18th Century in England. As girls reached a marriageable age, they were presented to society so they could find a husband of suitable situation and similar social standing. One of the most famous debutantes ball was the Queen Charlotte’s ball, created around 1780 by George III of England for his wife’s birthday. The best bred and prettiest girls only were presented to the Queen and could meet potential husbands there – very often the brothers of other debutantes ! They would wear a white evening dress, as a sign of their purity and virginity. The Queen Charlotte’s tradition went on until 1958 when it was abolished by Queen Elizabeth II.
In the United States of America, that tradition was particularly active in the 1930’s despite the depression. Debutantes were very popular and some got elected “Debutante of the year” and would make headlines in the media. In 1938, Brenda Frazier made the cover of Life. But the most famous of all debutantes was the 1947’s Debutante of the year, Jacqueline Bouvier, who would marry Senator John F. Kennedy in 1953 and become First Lady in 1961.
At most balls in Vienna, the event is still opened by Debutantes, and the Viennese Ball of Montreal is proud to continue this charming tradition.