Last night, the International Debutante Ball was held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Forty-seven young women from all over the world arrived to be "presented to society" (in earlier eras, it meant that the young lady was officially on the marriage market). The AP reports, given that "A debutante's family pays $14,000 for a table plus thousands of dollars for couture gowns, hairdressers and other expenses," some people are wondering if the tradition is antiquated.

"All of that excess. It kind of makes me gag a little," said Rachel Weingarten, an expert on marketing and trends and the author of "Career and Corporate Cool: How to Look, Dress and Act the Part at Every Stage of Your Career."

Elayne Rapping, a professor of American Studies at the State University of New York at Buffalo, said the persistence of debutante balls mirrors the trend of wealthy families throwing lavish bar mitzvahs and Sweet 16 parties. "The economy is so bad that it seems vulgar," Rapping said. "I guess they live in a bubble."

But a consultant whose daughter made her debut said, it's "a beautiful and meaningful coming-of-age ceremony in an increasingly global world." And one deb "who is descended from Venetian nobility that ruled Corfu for 400 years, explained the upside to the pomp and pageantry, "I want to meet international friends and have contacts with people from different countries." Perhaps the girls were enticed by the Gossip Girl episode, Hi, Society.