Late to the Ball

Austin woman makes dazzling debut at ritzy International Debutante Ball

Austin woman makes dazzling debut at International Debutante Ball

Olivia Late debutante
Olivia Late is a freshman at UT. Courtesy photo

A young Austinite recently made a Texas-sized entrance at one of the world's most prestigious and time-honored gala events. Olivia Claiborne Late made her debut at the 64th International Debutante Ball, which took place at in the Grand Ballroom of the tony Pierre Hotel in New York on December 27.

The event gathers the daughters of some of the world's wealthiest and most prestigious families. Young women don extravagant white gowns, some of which cost six figures, and are received by dapper young gentlemen in tuxedos. 

Late attends the University of Texas at Austin and is a graduate of Westlake High School where she was a member of the Hyline Dance Team and an award-winning math scholar, according to a release. She has also volunteered for local organizations including Helping Hand Home for Children, Mobile Loaves & Fishes, and the Beyond Batten Disease Foundation.

The Austinite was among the 23 “women of distinction” from across the globe who made their debut, including fellow Texans Catherine Coselli of Houston and Dominique Melcher of Fort Worth. The ladies of the Lone Star State struck a memorable pose with the “Texas Dip,” in which the debutante bows her head nearly to the ground with her arms outstretched to either side.

Late's parents, Ava and John Late, welcomed their daughter in the receiving line. Attendees of the ball and the surrounding parties included the daughters of diplomats, titled Europeans, ambassadors, and other VIPs. Late's parents are co-owners of Late European, an Austin luxury car dealership which was acquired and rebranded as Hi Tech Motorcars in 2017.

For her debut, Late wore an exclusive design created by Coutures by Laura of Austin. "Her timeless and graceful gown has a fitted bodice fashioned from Spanish guipure lace, which is enhanced with three-dimensional flowers," said a release. 

Since the International Debutante Ball launched in 1954, there has always been a strong Texas presence. Deb balls were traditionally organized for affluent young women to meet potential suitors, but today's debutantes are accomplished women who have graduated or will soon graduate from college. Today, they are billed as a way for participants to make professional contacts with people across the nation and around the world, while also honoring family traditions and having fun.

Over the years, the ball has benefited numerous charities through the International Debutante Ball Foundation, including one of its major beneficiaries, the Soldiers’, Sailors’, Marines’, Coast Guard and Airmen’s Club of New York, which has been providing a home away from home for the men and women of our armed services since 1919.

The fairy tale spectacle certainly makes the debutante ball intriguing — but,  is there something more? At at time where social media and politics seem to reach for the lowest-hanging fruit, it is perhaps the themes of gentility, grace, and civility that have kept the debutante ball tradition surely, and glamorously, thriving.