Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Debutante Ball - A Vintage Oriental theme with birds and blossoms.. and my 100th post..

The 2009 Debutante Ball

Where have I been for the last couple of months?

The 2009 Debutante Ball, which has totally consumed all of my time was on Friday night here in Bowral. In this beautiful country town that I live in, my son's school has some very 'old fashioned and lovely' traditions and one of them is the annual Debutante Ball. With 150 children being presented on the night, it is like a wedding for the masses. The girls all dress in a long pure white gowns (I will explain the rules in a future post), the boys in their formal suits and we the guests come in formal black tie for a very long, long night of good old fashioned traditions , fabulous food and lots of dancing to a big brass band. A very successful night and lots of fun had by all, especially the Debutantes.

My son begged me to be in charge of the decorations over a year ago, to display and theme the ball for the night. From the hall, to the table settings, stage display, entrance foyer, stationary and bling. I have been working away for the last couple of months with a hand full of other mums creating the decorations and buying and sourcing all the materials needed. My theme for the night was designed around one lovely old vintage silk fan with a little hand painted bird sitting on blossom and bamboo. Everything else just came straight out of my head as I went along.

I also created the design and decorations for the ball two years ago, so I knew what was involved and how much work hours were ahead of me. Above are some images of the hall before I started and a few of the hall while we were draping. I shouldn't really call it a hall, it's a school gymnasium, enormous and very ugly. It was in need of a total cover up. The ceilings were draped with white cotton, the walls were covered with black fabric and the timber floors were waxed and buffed hours before the ball.

We had 600 people attend, 140 year eleven children being presented, over 100 tables were joined together and set with white damask tablecloths, a bright lime green table runner, dark pink and light pink blossom filled with little bird cages and tiny blossom lights and baby birds on wire attached to the blossom. My table settings had a napkin folded as a oriental fan, (I know, a little old fashioned, but it actually worked). 600 birds nest that we made from wood wool with feathers and a little pink sugared almond egg inside. The name tags had little twigs glued to them and the stationary had the bird and blossom theme as well. I know, I'm just in love with birds and blossoms, I have been forever.

I also made sixty Cymbidium orchid bouquets for the girls (below) each with glass style beads and camelia leaves. There is also a very funny story there that I will tell you about soon.

Nothing ever goes to plan, oops.... never spray fresh leaves with hair spray!!!

I needed lots of decorations for the ceiling, I had hundreds of lights and lanterns hanging through the draping. Then I made hundreds of large tissue flowers that I grouped together, (as seen above - my silly friends modeling my flowers before they were lifted to the ceiling.) Do you remember when I said months ago, don't throw your dead Agapanthus flowers away, I stored mine in my garden shed and made these paper petals around them. They featured up on stage either side of scenery of hundreds of little cut out birds flying across the stage. The debutantes walked onto the stage then down the stairs to the red carpet. Yes, all very formal. There was even the official carpet rolling, I say!!!

I plan to show each and every detail in my future posts, there is so much I just can't fit it in this one story. Where I bought everything, how I made the decorations, how to design this large setting on quite a small budget and how to keep your cool through the many months of preparation.

Above: My two wonderful children on the night - growing up far too quickly....

I also designed and created two ball gowns with help of my dear friend Sue who did all the hand sewing for me as my eyes are fading the older I get. One gown for my daughter above, black organza and velvet and one for my my son's Debutante partner, Melissa. My next post will be on Melissa's gown, ruffles and all. You can spot her above in some of the images with the very full skirt.

Oh, I also tried to create a gown for myself and with a big smile on my face as I write this, it didn't quite go to plan, it looked fabulous on the dressmakers dummy, not so good on me. So I quickly added some beautiful black feathers to the bottom of straight black skirt. I looked a bit like a big black bird. It's silly you know, but I had to match to my theme somehow, that's just what it's like being a stylist.

STOP PRESS: Also, I have only just realised this afternoon that this is my 100th published post, (a few posts did go in the bin) I think I might have to crack open a bottle of bubbly tonight to celebrate a little. Cheers to blogging, wonderful blogging and to all my wonderful blogging friends who make my day so special.

Also congratulations to Brooke at Velvet and Linen on her 1st Anniversary of blogging and to Gina at Willow Decor as she also celebrates her 100th post.






Have a fabulous day and I have many more stories to come soon over the next couple of weeks on this ball.

Don't forget - please leave a comment or ask me questions, ask away, ask me anything....... I love to share my ideas ... xxx Coty


  1. Coty, welcome back I've missed your lovely posts!Congratulations on creating such a spectacular setting for the Deb. Ball - you are truly the star of Events Styling in the Southern Highlands. The hall looked amazing, the kids must have felt like they were walking onto an exotic movie set. You gave them a night to remember forever.

    Congrats too on your 100th post - your truly unique & inspirational blog has been such a gracious addition to my blogging journey. Thank you for your beauty & style & cheers to you my dear.
    Millie ^_^

  2. Oh this is fabulous and such a mammoth undertaking. One day your son will appreciate it even more. There is nothing harder than trying to make a gymnasium glamorous but YOU DID IT! I kept trying to enlarge the pictures for details. I know debutante balls are a little old school, but such a wonderful tradition I think. Ours lasts for 10 full days with parties every night ( and almost kills everyone :) I can't wait to see more pictures and the dresses---Hurry!

  3. You and your blog are wonderful!!

  4. A true stylist.......fitting it to the occasion....I really like the idea of a bird type theme for this ball.....metaphorically it's wonderful "taking flight to woman hood"...."soaring to a new life"......etc....

    the color choice was bright and vibrant, just like those young ladies, and the touch of whimsy looks just perfect....

    so much work! and I, personally, cannot wait to see how you kept your cool all those months of prep.

    happy 100th post! and yes; open the bubbly!

  5. Coty, you accomplished a miracle. Everything looks magically enchanting, and every detail is perfection.

    Now, are you going to relax for a while?

  6. Congratulations Coty~ The gymnasium is gorgeous, wonderfully camouflaged! What a great idea to hang all the lovely swags of fabric! Gymnasiums are so notorious for the echos that bounce off floor and ceiling. I'll be watching for future posts.

    Also congratulations on your 100th post! I've enjoyed the beauty of your blog so much. Your talent and skill always brings a peaceful feeling to my world. I so enjoy just gazing at your beautifully styled settings and images. I wish I had the knack for just dreaming up ideas and visions of how something should look... but alas, I usually need someone else's ideas to trigger it. So when I need an idea, I come here, to your blog! Then I go set my table or decorate a corner... (: Vicki

  7. This is the most fabulous setting I've ever seen! No wonder your son wanted you to do this -- Just lovely!

  8. Coty...this is really amazing! I don't think I would have slept for 2 years! :-) Gorgeous! I love all the color...everything is just beautiful! I tried to click on some of the pics to enlarge them...wanted to see every detail! I know this was a night that will live forever in the hearts and minds of those who attended. :-)Susan

  9. Wow! What an undertaking! It's all absolutely gorgeous!


  10. This is absolutely stunning!! Every detail was gorgeous! What an amazing job. :)

  11. Yikes you are gifted; and it takes a very special person who has creativity and organization skills. Awesome job--your kids must have been so proud of you. BUT you must be one tired Chick!

  12. What an amazing transformation! Your decor was truly inspired. All the children looks so happy. I know your son was very proud of you...and you must be exhausted!

    Jane (Artfully Graced)

  13. Wow! That is quite a party that you did. Very impressive!


  14. Simply Stunning! I hope you can stop by and enter your name in the giveaway at Color Outside the Lines. I know you could do some fantastic things with the loot! :) Cheers!

  15. Everything is so beautiful! COngrats on your 100th post!....Christine

  16. Coty~ ~Looking at all the happy smiles I would say that your evening was a great success! Your choice of young and bright colors is perfect. Time to take a break and put your feet up. . .Maybe for a minute, Yes?
    ~ ~Ahrisha~ ~

  17. Hi, this is my first time to visit you! Woah, your ball turned out beautifully. I will be back to read how it all unfolded! And especially hoping to learn how you made those huge paper flowers!

  18. First of all happy 100th! Secondly, what a huge amount of time and effort you put into the ball...and it shows! I love the color combination! The birdcages to the turned out beautifully! You are very talented and a miracle worker :) You'll probably have a hard time NOT working on that it's over, but I'm sure you'll have more exciting projects! Wonderful job!

  19. What an amazing transformation of that gym. Congratulations! You created a lovely setting for the party.

  20. Congrats on your 100th post, Coty! This one really blew me away. You are so talented. I can't even imagine all the work that goes into something like this! It's jaw-droppingly beautiful. Thanks for joining my party today and sharing it with us! :-)

  21. Well Coty, seems you did it again ! Beautiful and huge ! What good looking beautiful people your children are. I appreciate to meet your children here.
    Have a wonderful spring over there.

    Oh by the way, my daughter will go off go Australia november 3. From The Netherlands that too is huge, don't you think ! I will miss her so much and hold my heart, but she will have a wonderful year in your country, I am sure and she will return a different person probably from what I hear. Dutch folks are travelers are you know and we learn really fast from meeting with foreign people and societys. Those who traveled from here to overthere all experiences sound great. But...well..I'm a mommy, will hold my heart..

    Again: enjoy a wonderful summer, Coty

  22. What a wonderful, memorable event. I can't wait to read about all of the details. I am quite sure that in another life I MUST have had the chance to be a debutant; in this life, I grew up in the north and now only read wistfully about this gracious tradition.

  23. Now that is beyond amazing! What an undertaking, I am so in awe of how beautiful and how much detail you put into everything!

    I will be looking forward to seeing more about how you did this. Just AMAZING!

  24. Wow! This just takes my breath away. What a wonderful atmosphere you created for these lucky youngsters! It is something I could only wish for one of my daughters weddings! Beautiful, creative, inspirational, imaginative, glorious, inventive, ingenious, amazing, wonderful, breathtaking, and not lacking in any detail.


Your comments and emails truly make my day a very special one. Thank you for dropping by and visiting me at home in Australia, I read every single comment and I treasure each and every one. xxx Coty