Debutantes of 1927 – Young Men’s Illinois Club

Pictured above are the 1927 debutantes presented by the Young Men’s Illinois Club at their elaborate Mardi Gras Ball which was reigned over by Miss Mabel Saulsby, the lovely Queen. This photo appeared in the February 26, 1927 edition of The Louisiana Weekly, just one year after the organization was formed and a short time after the event took place. They are:

Top row (left to right): Virginia Gibson, Alice Baptiste, Mabel Saulsby (Queen), Inez Alston, Eloise Clark

Bottom row (left to right): Amy Bloom, Katherine Dupre, Ophelia Baptiste, Valeria Barnes

Dressed in various shades of pink, yellow, blue, rose, and orange, these young ladies wore gowns quite different from the gowns of today’s debutantes. In keeping with the fashion trends of the 1920s, as noted in an earlier post on Emancipated Women, their attire was comfortable, simple, and colorful.

Evening dresses were sleeveless, came just below the knee, and all were made of a sheer, crepe, lightweight fabric called “georgette.” Named after the early 20th century French modiste, Georgette de la Plante, it enabled these debutantes’ gowns to be very springy and flowing so that it draped very well and allowed for the uneven hemline effect you see in the photo above. Strings of pearls, low heels, and fitted hats added to the fashion trends of the Roaring Twenties. All carried beautiful bouquets of various colored roses or carnations.

At the conclusion of the presentations, these lovely young ladies were led on the arms of nine club members who danced with them to the beautiful sounds of a lovely waltz. Dancing continued throughout this eventful evening and refreshments were served in abundance. Of course, food added to the success of the evening since Mr. Knox, a member of the club, was the caterer. He received much praise for the excellence of the service as well as the refreshments served. Promptly at the stroke of midnight, the signal was given for the Grand March to begin and the guests fell in line behind the Queen and her court.

Source: The Louisiana Weekly, 26 February 1927, page 5.


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