La Fiesta Duchesses’ Titles Influenced by Gala’s Theme

Margaret Hill is the Duchess des Campagnes, Madalyn Brim is the Duchess de l’Academie Francaise, and Sarah Brawner is the Duchess du Grand Trianon. (Staff photo: Allison Slomowitz)

The titles given to the La Fiesta de las Seis Banderas duchesses can sometimes be a mouthful, but they all tie in to the yearly theme. This year, France is the country on which most of the monikers are based.

Other than titles alluding to the six flags that have flown over Texas (those of the Confederacy, France, Mexico, Spain, Texas, and the United States), the only two titles used each year are the Duchesses of Highland Park and University Park. There are 40 duchesses this year, leaving board president Rebecca Beasley to find 32 titles for the remaining girls.

To do that, Beasley turned to history. While France’s flag flew over Texas, Louis XIV was its king. So the 32 French titles are based on castles, palaces, and cities prominent during his reign. Those titles include Duchess da la Lousiane, Duchess du Chateau de Chambord, and Duchess du Palais de Versailles.

Claire Leifeste is the Duchess of Saint-German-en-Laye, after the city in which Louis XIV lived for 20 years. While she’s “not sure how to pronounce it,” she said with a laugh, the name gives the event an added flair. Leifeste and longtime La Fiesta designer Laurie Haluska worked on her dress to give it more of a French look.

The Confederate flag flew for a short time over Texas in the 19th century. While La Fiesta will never have a Confederate theme, Beasley said, being assigned the title gives a duchess the opportunity to wear a huge, elaborate gown.

“Their mindset has a lot to do with the dress,” Beasley said.

One duchess with a familiar title is Haley Anderson, the Duchess of the United States. Anderson said she was excited from the start to be part of La Fiesta, but finding out she was given an easily recognizable title is a bonus.

“As soon as they told me that, I was like, ‘I’m perfect with that.’ No complaint there,” she said.

Beasley, who was responsible for writing the introductions for the La Fiesta duchesses, said there is a small downside to representing the Red, White, and Blue. The U.S. flag was, of course, the final one chronologically to fly over the state, leaving the Duchess of the United States as one of the last to be introduced.

“You may get bragging rights, but you’ve got to stay backstage for a long time,” she joked.

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