A Greenwich girl enters Society and goes Greek
By Lexy Schmertz
Photographs by ChiChi Ubiña
The past few months have been a whirlwind of serious socializing for the Swiss-born Greenwich girl, Madison Paige Olmstead. Following in the well-heeled footsteps of the daughters of presidents, politicians, diplomats and nobility, Madison was formally presented to society over the Christmas holidays, then returned to Southern Methodist University, where she is a freshman, to join her classmates in another coming-of-age tradition: sorority rush.
“Maddie,” as she is known to her friends, made her debut at the 60th International Debutante Ball at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City on December 29th, escorted by her best friend and Taft School classmate, Thomas Fleming Robshaw of New York. Wearing a stunning strapless gown by Christian Dior, which she described as “beautiful but really simple,” Madison made her bows as the orchestra played Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Hills are Alive, from the Sound of Music.
Founded in 1954, the invitation-only Ball is more than just a party. It’s the continuity of ideals passed on to the next generation. It’s an opportunity to give back. And of course, it’s girl bonding. Madison appreciated every aspect of the experience. “I loved being a debutante,” she said. “It’s great to be part of something that has such a longstanding tradition.”
The Ball benefits The Soldiers’, Sailors’, Marines’, Coast Guard & Airmen’s Club, a resource for the military and their families. In keeping with the military theme, a cadet in dress uniform escorts the debutante and carries the flag of the country or state which the debutante represents. “Having a military escort made the experience more real. I like helping people, even if it’s just with a party,” said Madison.
The recent group of debutantes included 46 women representing eight countries and twelve American states. Meeting these women was one of the highlights of Madison’s experience. “I felt like there was a real connection with the other girls, even though I hadn’t known them before. This was a special bond,” she said.
The debutantes first came together at the Mother-Daughter Luncheon, held the day before the Ball. The women spent the day of the Ball together, rehearsing for the event and perfecting their curtsies, amidst much chattering and laughs. “Have you ever seen the Texas Dip?” asked Madison, referring to the elaborate curtsy traditionally performed by women from the Longhorn State. “It was incredible! There were 15 women from Texas, and they could practically touch their noses to the ground!”
Madison knows a thing or two about Texas. After the Ball, she headed back to SMU to take part in another important milestone of sisterhood: sorority rush, which the enthusiastic debutante thought was a blast. “My friends say that I talk to everyone, and I loved meeting all the girls.”
Her life might sound like a dream, but Madison is well grounded. She spent the past summer working with orphans in Southeast Asia, an experience she described as humbling. “I’ve been so privileged,“ she said. “It’s very special to work with these children.”
At The Taft School, Madison was president of her class for three years, and co-president of the school in her senior year, along with Robshaw, her escort for the Ball. And she received the 1908 Award for the senior who had the most positive impact on her class. She’s a World Changer Scholar at SMU and plans to spend a semester studying abroad.
For now, she’s just a girl enjoying college. In March, she was formerly initiated into SMU’s Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, along with 56 other women. It was a great party, but no one did the Texas Dip.