San Francisco Social Diary: 51st Annual San Francisco Debutante Ball

At this spring’s 51st annual San Francisco Debutante Ball, 24 young ladies made their debut before friends and family.

SAN FRANCISCO’S 51ST ANNUAL DEBUTANTE BALL
by Jeanne Lawrence

Twenty-four stunning young women made their bows at the 51st annual San Francisco Debutante Ball on Saturday, June 20. They crossed the threshold to adulthood at the Westin St. Francis in front of a crowd of 650 family, friends, and community members.

Hailey Elizabeth Cusack, Thomas James Polite, Katarina Lina Churich, and Peter James Campana.

At the stroke of midnight, June 21st welcomed the Summer Solstice and Father’s Day. What a memorable evening for dads who could twirl their debutante daughters around the dance floor in their traditional long white gowns.

Left: Curry Fisher and Matthew Paul Fisher.
Right: Christopher Stephen Kruse and Allaire Kruse.

Left: Madeleine Lamm and William Lamm.
Right: Sarah Jackmauh and Philip Jackmauh.

THE BALL

The long-honored rite of passage dates back to l7th-century European courts, where   young girls of aristocratic families were introduced to society. The debutante tradition is still observed here and abroad, especially in major cites, where the balls typically are charitable events.

The debutantes (or “debs”) make their debut after graduating high school, before heading off to college. Most of the San Francisco debs hail from the Bay Area, which includes the city of San Francisco, Marin, and the Peninsula. Many are legacies, whose mothers, sisters, aunts, and cousins also debuted here.

Left: Former deb Virginia Girard, Ann Girard, and Jane Mudge.
Right: Sofia Chenette and Christie Chenette, whose sister Julia debuted.

Merrill Kasper, Karen Weber, Jennifer Biederbeck, and Stacey Dobos.

David Soward, Brooke Wentz, and Lorre Erlick.

Left: Lorre Erlick, Jeanne Lawrence, and Ann Girard.
Right: Jim and Patsy Ludwig, mother-in-law to Ball Chair Stacey Dobos.

Sayareh Farsio, Ali Mozaffari, Setareh Farsio, Roger Reynolds, and Debbie Reynolds.

Theresa Spirz, Neiman Marcus GM Alan Morrell, and Lisa Grotts.

Left: Beth Silvestri, Alan Brynjolfsson, and Tris Brynjolfsson.
Right: Wendy Bolton, Susan Malott, and Ann Girard.

Nikki Silverman, Mark Silverman, Jeff Finegold, Jill Finegold, and Laura Russeau.

Left: Alex Brenner, Lorre Erlick, and Maxwell Tucker Brenner.
Right: Veronica Verklin, Kim Kristoff, Janet Ostler, and Lisa Monetta.

THE LONG NIGHT

The grand evening began with a 7:30 p.m. cocktail reception for family and friends in the century-old Westin St. Francis’s Italian and Colonial Rooms. Upstairs, society photographer Drew Altizer’s team snapped photos of the Debs for posterity.

Before the debutantes took their bows, they enjoyed a bite of from a selection of all-white foods, chosen to ensure no errant morsel would stain their pristine gowns.

THE DRESS CODE

According to tradition, debutantes must wear long white gowns with straps and a full skirt, paired with elbow-length opera gloves. The escorts must wear white tie and tails with gloves. All the young people seemed to enjoy every aspect of dressing the part.

Left: Rachael Maier and Sarah Jackmauh.
Right: Camille Rich and Lindsay Weber.

THE WOMEN’S COMMITTEE

The San Francisco Debutante Ball was founded in 1964 by the Women’s Board of the California Pacific Medical Center Foundation (CPMC), whose goal was to support traditional and charitable values and to provide philanthropic support for projects at the Medical Center. They have raised millions, to date, and this year’s ball proceeds will help establish the Resource Center for Parkinson’s disease at CPMC’s Neuroscience Institute.

The ball chair this year was Stacey Dobos of Hillsborough, a debutante herself 25 years ago and ongoing supporter of the cause. She was assisted by the Junior Committee, former debutantes who participate to reconnect and relive memories of their big night.

Ball chair Stacey Dobos with her husband Ted Dobos.

THE GRAND BALLROOM

The Westin St. Francis’s rooms are timeless and magnificent. Designer J. Riccardo Benavides, creative director of Ideas Events, made them especially warm and inviting.

The Grand Ballroom featured glittering Lucite chairs and round tables topped with pink ruffled tablecloths and gold plates.

Guests dined on smoked chicken salad, filet of Angus beef, and chocolate and strawberry mousse, accompanied by California wines from Ravenswood Vineyard.

The tables were adorned with centerpieces of flowers in varying shades of pink.

THE BOW AND FATHER-DAUGHTER WALTZ

As each deb made her grand entrance onstage accompanied by her escort, she performed the traditional curtsy or bow and was cheered on by new and old friends, some from high school and others dating back to childhood.

Mary Elizabeth Grinnell and Michael Grinnell.

Solange Celeste Soward and Joseph Jennison Ladd.

Jennifer Suzanne Reynolds and Maxwell Tucker Brenner.

Paige Alexandra Silverman and Parker Silverman.

At the bottom of the stairs, the escort passed the deb’s hand over to her father, relative, or a dear family friend, who presented her to the audience and joined her in the traditional waltz.

William Henry Baylis, Jennifer Hannah Baylis, and Elias Morrison Schwartz.

Left: Mark Raymond Palmer and Paloma Elizabeth Palmer.
Right: Clyde William Ostler and Lily Ann Ostler.

Left: Bruce Raabe and Brooke Emily Raabe.
Right: Philip E. Chenette and Julia Chenette.

Left: William Ellison Grayson and Elizabeth Mason Grayson.
Right: Jonathan Harris and Katherine Harris.

Paul Steigerwald and Connolly Steigerwald.

Left: Russell Reed Silvestri and Diana Silvestri.
Right: Daniel Conte and Allaire Kruse.

THE FRENCH QUADRILLE

Once all the new debutantes had been presented, they performed the slow French Quadrille, a step routine that dates back centuries and was performed at the European royal courts. Every turn gives the audience another view of the young ladies.

Camille Rich, Kevin Michael Mannix II, Jennifer Suzanne Reynolds, and Maxwell Tucker Brenner performing the Quadrille.

Curry Sullivan Fisher, William Behnke Jr., Kendall Finnegan, and Angelo Sangiacomo doing the Quadrille.

DANCING

For the young women, making their debuts was a once-in-a-lifetime experience; for everyone, it was a magical evening, evoking old-world glamour in an opulent setting.

Band leader Mike Carney flew in from Palm Beach to provide classic ballroom music for a twelfth time.

Left: Sara Scannell and friend.
Right: Paloma Palmer and friend.

BIG NEWS: TWO NEW HOSPITALS

It was announced that in four years, when the 2015 debs have graduated from college, CPMC will have opened two new hospitals. At Van Ness and Geary in Center City where the Cathedral Hill Hotel once stood, an entire block has been razed to make way for a new, state-of-the-art, seismically safe hospital. Ten years in the planning, it’s set to open in 2019.

DEBUTANTES 2015

The San Francisco Debutantes of 2015, in alphabetic order: Jennifer Hannah Baylis, Julia Marley Chenette, Katarina Lina Churich, Hailey Elizabeth Cusack, Kendall Marion Finnegan, Curry Sullivan Fisher, Elizabeth Mason Grayson, Mary Elizabeth Grinnell, Katherine Hamilton Harris, Sarah Elisabeth Jackmauh, Allaire Houston Kruse, Madeleine Elizabeth Lamm, Rachael Jayne Maier, Lily Ann Ostler, Paloma Elizabeth Palmer, Brooke Emily Raabe, Jennifer Suzanne Reynolds, Camille Anne Rich, Sara Reeves Scannell, Paige Alexandra Silverman, Diana Laura Silvestri, Solange Celeste Soward, Connolly Grace Steigerwald, and Lindsey Marie Weber.

 

Photographs by Drew Altizer

*Urbanite Jeanne Lawrence reports on lifestyle and travel from her homes in San Francisco, Shanghai, and New York, and wherever else she finds a good story.

San Francisco Social Diary: Electric Fashion

This spring, I attended the launch of fashion maven Christine Suppes’ book Electric Fashion, featuring images of her personal couture collection amassed over three decades.

THE LAUNCH OF CHRISTINE SUPPES’ BOOK ELECTRIC FASHION
by Jeanne Lawrence

This spring, Christine Suppes, the art patron, couture collector, and trailblazing fashion editor, launched the international tour of her latest book, Electric Fashion, at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, followed by a national launch at San Francisco’s Neiman Marcus.

Suppes in a shocking pink 1950 Balenciaga Eisa ball gown, originally owned by Mrs. Biddle of Philadelphia, part of her incredible collection.

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Shanghai Social Diary: Treasures of China’s Heritage Part 4

On a nine-day trip to China with the Global Heritage Fund, I explored some truly incredible, off-the-beaten-path historical sites, including three days at my favorite stop, the stunning ancient walled city of Pingyao.

Treasures of China’s Heritage: Touring with the Global Heritage Fund
(Fourth of a Seven-part Series)

Fujian and Shanxi

By Jeanne Lawrence

I recently had the privilege of taking a nine-day trip to China in the company of board members of the Palo Alto-based Global Heritage Fund (GHF)—an organization devoted to supporting underdeveloped rural areas worldwide. Although I’d previously traveled extensively in China, this unusual excursion was uniquely enriching and memorable. It’s my pleasure to share this experience with you in a series of recollections illustrated primarily by my personal photographs. Links to the other installments in this series can be found at the end of this article.

6080_pingyao china map copyAfter resting up from our first magical day in historic Pingyao, we looked forward to more experiences in the ancient walled city, including an up-close encounter with the walls themselves.


DAY 5: THE ANCIENT CITY OF PINGYAO IN SHANXI

VISITING THE CITY WALLS AND GATE TOWERS

On the fifth day of our tour, we explored the Pingyao city walls, beginning at the north end with Gongji, one of six gates. The north and south ends each feature one gate, while the west and east walls have two, each with a tower. Each gate has three surrounding walls to protect it from invaders and prevent wind and sand damage.

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Shanghai Social Diary: Treasures of China’s Heritage Part 3

On a nine-day trip to China with the Global Heritage Fund, I explored some truly incredible, off-the-beaten-path historical sites, including my favorite stop, the ancient walled city of Pingyao.

Treasures of China’s Heritage: Touring with the Global Heritage Fund
(Third in a Seven-part series)

Fujian and Shanxi

By Jeanne Lawrence

I recently had the privilege of taking a nine-day trip to China in the company of board members of the Palo Alto-based Global Heritage Fund (GHF)—an organization devoted to supporting underdeveloped rural areas worldwide. Although I’d previously traveled extensively in China, this unusual excursion was uniquely enriching and memorable. It’s my pleasure to share this experience with you in a series of recollections illustrated primarily by my personal photographs. Links to the other installments in this series can be found at the end of this article.

3940_pingyao china map copyAfter exploring the port town of Zhangzhou and touring ancient earthen residences called “tulous” in southeast China, we next travelled north to the ancient walled city of Pingyao.

DAY 4: THE ANCIENT CITY OF PINGYAO IN SHANXI

It’s said that to see China 1,000 years ago, go to Beijing; to see China 3,000 years ago, go to Xian; and to see China 5,000 years ago, go to the northern province of Shanxi—our next destination.

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Shanghai Social Diary: Treasures of China’s Heritage Part 2

On a trip to China with the Global Heritage Fund, we explored some truly incredible, off-the-beaten-path historical sites, such as Tian Luo Keng, a cluster of round, earthen tulou residences.

Treasures of China’s Heritage: Touring with the Global Heritage Fund
(Second of a Seven-part Series)

Nanjing and Pinghe Counties, Fujian

By Jeanne Lawrence

I recently had the privilege of taking a nine-day trip to China in the company of board members of the Global Heritage Fund (GHF)—an organization devoted to supporting underdeveloped rural areas worldwide. Although I’d previously traveled extensively in China, this unusual excursion was uniquely enriching and memorable. It’s my pleasure to share this experience with you in a series of recollections illustrated primarily by my personal photographs. Links to the other installments in this series can be found at the end of this article.

DAY 2: ARRIVAL IN ZHANGZHOU CITY

2980_zhangzhou map copyAfter landing in Fujian’s modern city of Xiamen and exploring earthen tulou buildings in the countryside on our first day, we proceeded to the historic port town of Zhangzhou and then to Pinghe and Nanjing counties, where we visited tulous of a different style.

Only forty-three miles from the costal city of Xiamen lies Zhangzhou, a second-tier city with a population of nearly five million. Once a big port town known for trafficking in silk and sugar, today it supports agriculture, flour-milling, wine-making, tea-curing, papermaking, printing, the manufacture of jute sacking, and narcissus cultivation.

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