In the spring last year my friend Emily asked if I wanted to join her promenade group, the Prima Donnas, for this years Mardi Gras. She nominated me and in June I received my letter saying that I had been accepted. I was excited and anticipating our hat party in August where we get to choose our groups theme.
There are so many ways to celebrate Mardi Gras. The most common is the big parade krewes that ride through the city the weeks leading up to Mardi Gras. However there are lots of other groups that are participants too like the Mardi Gras Indians, groups like the Dames of Perlage and the Pussyfooters. There are a variety of groups to join and it makes the holiday so much more fun.
The Prima Donnas were founded in 2009 by Sue Capitelli and Debbie Evans. They are also the owners of Haute Dames Couture which makes high end fascinators and hats. Each year they pick an overall krewe theme and then 13 individual themes for each group. The themes and hats are to remain secret until they are presented at Saks Fifth Avenue at Canal Place the Friday before Mardi Gras.
This years Krewe theme was “Celebrate Good Times”. Groups included things like Chinese New Year and Birthday Parties and Weddings just to name a few. My group was the Celebration of San Fermin or The Running of the Bulls. We have creative license with our costumes. The only rules they have is that we bead the majority of our bustier with Mardi Gras beads and that the hat remains just like it is the day they present it to you at the hat party.
I had dreams of starting my bustier much earlier than I did but par for the course I waited until January. It was easier than I thought it was going to be once I got started. I learned quickly how to lay the beads into rows where they locked into one another. Mistakes I made were not using enough glue but I got a lot of compliments on my costume for my first year so I was very please with the way it turned out as was my royal.
One of the other tasks we are given is to bead bras. Many of the krewes throw a specialty throw and the Prima Donnas mist coveted are the beaded bras. People gather at the balcony to wait to catch one or more. I hadn’t planned to make any this year but when I finished my bustier earlier than expected I wanted to make a few. I ended up making four total.
The day of the Promenade was probably one of the most fun days of my life. I started the morning at 6:30 in the hair and makeup chair with Johanna. I met up with my group at Canal Place around 9:30 and the presentations started at 10 at Saks. This was such an exciting part of our day. They introduced each group as they came down the escalator to a packed out crowd. After all of the presentations we had champagne and danced and took pictures.
The time you spend at Saks is really your first opportunity to see the other ladies costumes. I thought mine was pretty amazing until I started looking at some of the other ones. It is incredible what people can do with Mardi Gras beads and a glue gun.
From Saks we all walk to Court of Two Sisters and had brunch with our groups. It was nice to sit down and regroup a little from the celebration at Saks before leaving and going on the promenade.
The Grande Promenade begins at 1:00 and starts at the back entrance of the Court of Two Sisters on Bourbon street. From there the entire group walks up Bourbon and crosses to Royal and back around to Bourbon. Groups of people are in town for the Mardi Gras weekend and also Krewes like Iris are having their luncheon that day at the Royal Sonesta. I saw so many people I knew that were in the quarter having brunch.
Our krewe makes the long walk down Bourbon to the Tropical Isle balcony where we spend the remainder of the day throwing beads, having cocktails and dancing.
I am eagerly awaiting this years hat party so we can pick our theme again. This year my group is choosing first which is so exciting.
Until next year… Hail Prima Donnas!