Dressing Up Debutantes Cover Image

Dressing Up Debutantes

Pageantry and Glitz in Texas

eBook

Michaele Thurgood Haynes


ISBN:
978-0-8578-5406-3 (online)
978-1-8597-3934-1 (hardback)
978-1-8597-3939-6 (paperback)
Published:
1998
DOI:
10.2752/9780857854063
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Abstract

For ninety years, young society women in San Antonio, Texas have donned custom-designed dresses and trains to take part in the Coronation of a queen and her court. These royal robes, which weigh fifty pounds and more and cost an average of $18,000, are highly embellished with rhinestones and beads. The Coronation is part of the ten-day, century-old festival celebrating the final battle of the 1836 Texas revolt against Mexico.This book provides a significant contribution to the study of social elites in Western society through a material culture analysis of the Coronation costumes worn by the Euro-American debutantes. Set against the backdrop of a city undergoing many demographic, socioeconomic, and political changes, the themes of Coronation pageants represent the mythologized ethnic and class history which reinforces the hierarchical positioning of its participants. The royal robes serve as the canvas upon which this theme is carried out. The Coronation, held in a city with a Hispanic majority, has come under attack for its elitism, but participation in it is still important for the old Euro-American aristocracy and for a very few extremely wealthy Hispanic families. Integral to the continuation of this increasingly contested tradition is the emotional appeal that wearing these intricately decorated gowns holds for participants.