Friday, January 14, 2011

The Swans

With all the hype about the film Black Swan, thoughts turn to the other swans of yore: Truman Capote's famous "Swans," the bevy of beautiful socials who constituted Capote's circle of international hostesses and confidantes of the 1950's and 60's. Known for their long, graceful necks--hence the "swan" metaphor--these icons of femininity represented the ultimate in looks, style, elegance and the tenor of the times.


Mexican-born Gloria Guinness...




The beautiful CZ Guest, whose hair Capote once described as "champagne," shown here with Woolworth heir Jimmy Donahue...




Babe Paley...


Here with husband, CBS titan Bill Paley...


Marella Agnelli, wife of Fiat founder Gianni...




Slim Keith, once married to Howard Hawks and Leland Hayward, the inspiration for Lauren Bacall's style in her classic film roles with Bogie

All were invited to Capote's famous Black and White Ball. These were the days when men of power reigned, having chosen decorative and immensely capable consorts whose role was to advance and enhance the personal, professional and private social lives of their men. Today it seems almost quaint for a woman with as much skill and personal eclat as a Babe Paley, for example, to obsess over perfection to such a degree as to cut the then-serrated edges off postage stamps to give mailed correspondence a more elegant touch. Their existences, while seemingly spectacular, had the predictable sadnesses, tragedies and stresses that life lived at such a Zeussian altitude often produces.

These Swans live on in the vast trove of photographic archives chronicling their global comings-and-goings. A book about all of them would seem a nice idea.

ABL

4 comments:

Kathie Truitt said...

Anne, I'm just curious...which one is your favorite?

Kathie

Anne Lake said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anne Lake said...

Always been partial to CZ. My father's family knew hers in Boston. She turned out to be a pretty down-to-earth gal with an entrepreneurial streak in her later years.

Preppy 101 said...

I am reading Fifth Avenue 5 A.M. right now - wonderful book about Audrey and Breakfast at Tiffany's. Of course this could not exist without Truman Capote - nice discourse about his swans in the book. Have a great day! xoxo

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Living well is the best revenge...and a choice we make every day. Join me as I celebrate the bounty of beauty in all its forms: fashion, homestyle, accessories and everyday richness...as I juggle the roles of Mommy, wife, daughter, dog mommy, creative director, Zumba instructor, volunteer...all with more than a passing glance backward to an old-school, classic time when style was a way of life