Saturday, December 06, 2008

Pygmalion, Cinderella & Guess Who's Coming to the Ball?

Isaac Mizrahi's design for Malia, Michelle and Sasha Obama

While Women's Wear Daily published sketches of designer ball gowns for Michelle Obama to wear Inauguration night (she will likely choose a different designer, what WWD and the designers did there was just for fun), a U.S. businessman named Earl Stafford was conjuring up his own inaugural ball. Prompted by the Washington Marriott's $1 million Build Your Own Ball offer, he decided to throw a People's Inaugural Ball for 1,000, one third of whom will be homeless folks, battered women, disabled soldiers, and terminally ill patients. Stafford heads the Stafford Foundation, which is committed to the underserved, marginalized and distressed.

The people will be pampered in a luxury hotel for 3 days, and provided with tuxedoes and ball gowns, hair dressers and beauticians for the event.
It's easy for me to start an argument with myself over this.
"Balls are silly."
"Yeah, but this is an important milestone in history, and it should be marked with a grand celebration."c-
"Michelle will make a statement with the designer she chooses."
"Who cares?"

"Me, maybe."
"There are better ways to spend $1million (not these). And how will those people feel going back to their misery?"
"Well, Mr. Stafford does head a foundation to help them. Maybe their lives will improve with his help, beyond 3 nights. And wouldn't you love a chance to do what Earl Stafford is giving these people a chance to do?"
"Um, I dunno, wearing an uncomfortable dress, and having to talk to people I don't know for 3 or more hours?"
"Yeah, but maybe Michelle and Barack will stop by." -

Mr. Stafford said: The People's Inaugural Project offers the underprivileged in our society a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to come to our nation's capital and join in the watershed inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama. It's a historic investment for our foundation.

Illustration for Charles Perrault's Cinderella from Histoires ou Contes du Temps passé: Les Contes de ma Mère l'Oye(1697). Gustave Doré's illustrations appear in an 1867 edition entitled Les Contes de Perrault. Second of three engravings (from wiki commons)

x o x o x o x o

Today's ornaments:

Lesley and Peter made these from yellow construction paper when we lived in İstanbul in the late '80s. The yellow has faded in these past 20 years, and some glitter has worn off. Like Turkish carpets, they have grown more valuable with age.


Sidney said...

Isaac Mizrahi's design is very beautiful... treasured those stars for more than 20 years...wonderful !

Susan said...

Normally I couldn't care less about fashion, but I am totally excited about the inaugural balls and what Michelle and the girls will be wearing. I'm sure that whomever she chooses to design her gown, it will be tasteful, exciting and a little daring. She really knows what works on her body and the dress will look beautiful on her. Can't you just imagine Michelle and Barack dancing the night away! I hope people don't begrudge them this well-deserved celebration. They will need it to look back upon when he begins the tough job that he has won.

And I love the idea of The People's Ball! What a grand event for them. One they will talk about the rest of their lives. I do hope the Obamas will pay them a visit.

Those ornaments are such treasures! I've got a few of those myself. I haven't used them the last few years, but this year I will get them out. You've inspired me, as you often do.

I like your new comment line. I feel as if we are neighbors. Howdy, Neighbor!

shicat said...

Hi Ruth, I'm not sure what I think about the extravagance of balls during these difficult times but I can't wait to see those adorable Obama girls.I do like the sound of the Stafford Foundation. It's a glimmer of hope and who knows maybe that alone could change a life.
Love the children's ornaments,
precious for sure.

Ruth said...

Sidney, one thing I like about Isaac Mizrahi is that he designs clothes for Target, which is a discount store where you can buy a dress designed by him for $39.

Astrid said...

Ruth, I have been reading your blog whenever I had the chance, please know that sometimes it is difficult to participate in a discussion and my lack of time is also the main problem.
I want to say that I love the pictures when the blog opens, SNOW, those pictures all of them are a joy for the eye.
The ornaments, cherish them, I know you do, they look beautiful and this says too, it is NOT always the most expensive things that counts, home made simple ornaments have a thought behind it, it is the emotion that comes with it.
Enjoy your weekend, I noticed those two days are going way to fast, my job is great, love it everyday more and more.
I will write you more in an e-mail.

Ruth said...

Dear Susan, I read the most wonderful article at called First lady got back in which a black woman writes about her joy over having a role model for black women with booty. It's well worth a read! But while I loved it, there was a mixed reaction, and even a round table discussion after the article was posted.

Loring Wirbel said...

There are plenty of military contractors paying for the inaugural ball. Col. Ann Wright of Code Pink tells me she's going to try crashing it and make a scene about military money paying for the soiree.

Ruth said...

Hi Cathy, the grim reality is getting so bad it gets harder and harder to maintain some sort of equilibrium about it all. Hearing about Zimbabwe right now, I wish I had a pilot's license. I might steal a jumbo jet and go airlift people out one planeload at a time. What the realistic solutions are is just beyond me.

Ruth said...

Thank you for your comment, Astrid. I know you must be very busy with your new job, and I'm so happy you are enjoying it more and more. I look forward to hearing more about it.

Glad you like the snow here. I am like a kid about winter, and I never get tired of it. Well almost never.

Ruth said...

Yuck, Loring. That is pretty twisted. Good for Col. Wright.

Anet said...

Hmmm.... I'm not sure how to feel about the ball for the under privilaged. Seems like the money could help them in better ways. But on the other hand...they do deserve a bit of the good life or would that just make it worse for them? Oh...I just don't know!

Those stars are more precious than the ones in the heavens!

Susan said...

I think that article was published in last week's Newsweek. It was very good. I'll check out the discussion later. Thanks.

Sharon said...

Ditto on what Anet said. Beautiful stars!

Ruth said...

Anet and Sharon, I know. I would like to hear an actual person talk about it, and what the experience means to them. I don't even know if folks have been invited yet. I imagine there would be a spectrum of feelings for invitees as well.

Ruth said...

Susan, I found the followup roundtable even more interesting.

Ginnie said...

I heard about Stafford's inaugural ball the other day, Ruth, and was in awe of the idea. It sounds a bit like Babbette's Feast...or something God might do. Total lavishment that could fall on deaf ears...but totally worth the effort, for some strange reason. Just like God!?!

alice said...

Bonjour Ruth! I amn't able to understand all you write, only some things here and there (I have not always the time to check all the words in my dictionary...). But I do appreciate your new banner and your personal stars ;-)
Have a great Sunday!

Ruth said...

Boots, yes, "Babette's Feast" - that would make it even more special: if it were his last $1million, like Babette's inheritance totally spent out of gratitude and generosity on one meal.

Ruth said...

Bonjour, Alice! Thank you very much for trying. Prends bien soin de toi.

Hildegarde said...

Cozy series on the christmas ornaments. Interesting topic : the dresses (it's a small world : in our newspaper, here in Flanders, EU, we also had an article about the fashion designs for Michelle's dress :-) and then your arguments about the people's ball, the pro and contra's : well written, interesting, and recognizable arguments.

Ruth said...

Hildegarde, well soon, in a few weeks, we'll have more important things for you to read about over there, once Mr. Obama starts leading the country. But I confess I enjoy watching Michelle Obama, and listening to her too.

Wrensong Farm said...

When I first heard about Stafford's inaugural ball I wasn't sure how I felt....I thought 1 million would go far with helping those people in their everyday lives....BUT to have something so memorable and special to be able to think back on is definitely worth the money...and the fact that that is the way he chose to spend some of him money is admirable.

Ruth said...

Yeah, Wrensong. You never know, maybe the experience will be just what someone needs to turn a corner. Having someone think that this event alone, and my participation in it, is worth such extravagance, would boost my self image.

My Castle in Spain said...

Well...i don't know what to think about this grand ball for unprivileged people. They might love it or hate it! but i must admit i find the idea in itself wonderful !
if there is a follow up...

photowannabe said...

I guess I am feeling pretty much like yourself and others in your comments. Its such a mixed bag. to spend or not...a bit of joy or not...from the finest to the not so... how interesting it will all be.
Love the stars. I have some precious things from my boys too. I love the anology about the turkish carpets growing more valuable with age.

rauf said...

Ruth, i think its okkay for hollywood and rock stars but not appropriate for the president and his family to indulge in waste of money, i think he should scrap the whole thing and lead by example

Peter said...

I can very well understand your and others' mixed feelings! Will be interesting to know how the selected will appreciate first the invitation, then the festivity as such.

In any case, I believe the celebration must take place and the initiative to make it more popular is probably good. Times may be tough, but we must keep the moral up.

(Was pleased to see an illustration of the 1867 edition; bought it for my grandson, although he's still too young to appreciate - and even touch - it! One day!)

Ruth said...

Dsole, if I hear anything regarding follow-up, I'll post it. Good idea.

Ruth said...

Hi, Sue. Sometimes I wonder how the construction paper has lasted so long in these old ornaments and other decorations. But we take meticulous care storing them.

Ruth said...

rauf, if they followed your advice, it would indeed be a good, healthy statement.

Ruth said...

Oh Peter, you bought this edition of Cinderella for your grandson! Oh glory be. He's a fortunate boy. I will buy such things for my grandchildren too, as my mother did for our children, one day. I love books so much. I'll be posting photos from another old one tomorrow.

So glad you're back safe and sound from Venice, and having met up with Nathalie! She looked so sweet with her Aussie umbrella.

Bob Johnson said...

Again I love your Kids ornaments. I remember the kids loving putting their ornaments, the ones they made at school on the tree and helping decorate the tree with all the other ornaments. Of course when they went to bed we had to move them around, usually 20 or so all low to the ground in the same area,lol.

Nautankey said... words which dont mean anything to me :). I am color,design,brand blind.

Ruth said...

So cute, Bob! I love picturing that, hehehe. And now, our kids don't live at home, and we had to decorate the tree without them. :(

Ruth said...

Nautankey, oh! Is this the problem with the green-eyed girl? Maybe you need a fashion consultant, ha.

But seriously, the right girl won't care too much - until after she's hooked you. Then look out!

Sandy said...

I'm not really excited about the ball but I will peek in just to see what she chose...I would rather have the money, if I was in need, than all the partying.

I'm enjoying your decorations. Makes me wish I would have preserved the kids' decorations they made me, better than I have.

Ruth said...

Sandy, I'm guessing there might be as many opinions about the ball as there are people, including those who attend.