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Issue 17 Out Now

From Screen to Wardrobe: Exploring the Wardrobes of Feud: Capote vs. The Swans

In Ryan Murphy’s captivating limited series, “Feud: Capote vs. The Swans,” the fashion of the characters takes center stage alongside the drama. Truman Capote, played by Tom Hollander, faces the consequences after exposing the secrets of the New York City elite, known as “The Swans.” This article delves into the stunning fashion choices in the series, designed by Lou Eyrich, Leah Katznelson, and Rudy Mance. From vintage Givenchy to custom creations by Zac Posen, the costumes transport viewers to the glamorous world of high society from the 1950s to the 1980s.

The Swans: A Study in Style

Out Magazine

In “Feud: Capote vs. The Swans,” each character has a distinctive fashion sense that reflects their personality and status. Naomi Watts's Barbara “Babe” Paley embodies elegance and refinement. Before marrying CBS head Bill Paley, she worked as a Vogue editor and graced the International Best Dressed List in 1958. Babe Paley’s wardrobe features Balenciaga, Valentino, and Givenchy designs, adorned with dazzling Fulco di Verdura and Jean Schlumberger jewels.

CZ Guest, played by Chloe Sevigny, exudes a refined country house aesthetic. As a muse for Salvador Dali, CZ Guest’s style combines American designers such as Geoffrey Beene, Bill Blass, and Ralph Lauren with vintage pieces from Lanvin, Pierre Cardin, and Céline. Her practical yet elegant outfits include houndstooth blazers, crisp button-ups, and fine-knit turtlenecks, complemented by her signature pearls.

Slim Keith, portrayed by Diane Lane, presents a statement-making style. Known for her tailored and slightly sporty fashion aesthetic, Slim Keith’s wardrobe showcases flowing pants, structured belted dresses, and chic boots. Though documentation of her style in the ’70s proved scarce, her iconic fashion moments captured by high-society photographer Slim Aarons influenced the costume design.

Lee Radziwill, played by Calista Flockhart, embodies timeless sophistication. The younger sister of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Radziwill’s fashion choices mirror her refined taste. She prefers elegant silhouettes and classic designs, so her wardrobe includes pieces from renowned designers like Givenchy, Dior, and Balmain.

The Genius

Lou Eyrich, the series’ costume designer, and her team faced the challenge of illustrating each character’s distinctive style while ensuring they complemented each other in group scenes. The Swans’ fashion choices had to convey their position in high society and the nuances of their personal lives. To achieve this, Eyrich and her team sourced designer vintage pieces and collaborated with Zac Posen for the reenactment of Capote’s legendary Black and White Ball.

Babe Paley’s Queen Bee Elegance

Babe Paley’s wardrobe epitomizes queen bee elegance. Her outfits feature a palette of creams, caramels, camels, rose pinks, and pastel blues, creating a refined and polished look. Eyrich drew inspiration from society photos and books like “Swans: Legends of the Jet Society” and Bill Paley’s memoir. Babe Paley’s ensembles reflect her meticulous attention to detail, with matching gloves, purses, shoes, and accessories.

One standout fashion moment for Babe Paley occurs during a runway show and fitting at the Givenchy atelier in Paris. Eyrich scoured vintage collections, including the archives of the Parisian fashion house, to find a boat-neck, cap-sleeve black dress that showcased Hubert de Givenchy’s signature wasp-waisted silhouette.

CZ Guest’s Refined Country House Aesthetic

CZ Guest’s fashion aesthetic combines practicality with refinement. Her wardrobe features houndstooth blazers, crisp button-ups, and fine-knit turtlenecks, reflecting her love for tending to her garden and horses at her Connecticut estate. Eyrich incorporated American designers like Geoffrey Beene, Bill Blass, and Ralph Lauren and vintage pieces from Lanvin, Pierre Cardin, and Céline to capture CZ Guest’s timeless style.

One of CZ Guest’s most striking fashion moments takes place during the Guests’ annual Thanksgiving in Palm Beach. The Swans don beachside hues, with CZ Guest wearing a vintage cream jumpsuit and gold belt and Diane Lane donning a raspberry metallic silk gown. The color palette reflects the Sunshine State’s vibrant atmosphere while also symbolizing the growing distance between Capote and The Swans.

Slim Keith’s Statement-Making Separates

Slim Keith’s fashion choices blend tailored sophistication with a touch of sportiness. Eyrich and Diane Lane collaborated extensively to capture Slim Keith’s style, especially for the private at-home moments depicted in the series. The wardrobe revolves around flowing pants, structured belted dresses, and chic boots, creating a look that is both feminine and empowered.

A photograph of Slim Keith wearing a long wrap-front gown was a notable fashion inspiration for her. Eyrich incorporated menswear elements into Slim Keith’s wardrobe, combining structured, chic pieces with touches of femininity. The result is a distinctive style that sets her apart from the other Swans.

The Black and White Ball: A Fashion Extravaganza

One of the most memorable events in the series is Capote’s Black and White Ball, held in 1966 at the Plaza Hotel. Eyrich collaborated with the renowned red carpet designer Zac Posen to recreate the opulent masquerade gowns worn by the socialites attending the ball. The costumes for this event were meticulously researched, drawing on sketches by illustrator Joe Eula, Ron Galella’s photographs, and rare VHS footage of a CBS recording.

The New York Times

Each socialite’s gown was carefully designed to reflect their individual style and personality. For example, Babe Paley’s gown featured a grand entrance-making opera coat, while Ann Woodward’s dress incorporated bird-like elements. The attention to detail and historical accuracy brought the Black and White Ball to life, captivating audiences with its glamour and sophistication.

The fashion in “Feud: Capote vs. The Swans” enhances the storytelling and transports viewers to a bygone era of elegance and glamour. Lou Eyrich’s meticulous attention to detail, collaboration with Zac Posen, and extensive research resulted in stunning costumes that captured the essence of each character. From Babe Paley’s queen bee elegance to CZ Guest’s refined country house aesthetic and Slim Keith’s statement-making separates, the fashion in the series is a feast for the eyes. “Feud: Capote vs. The Swans” showcases the artistry of costume design and brings the iconic Swans of New York City high society to life.


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