The New Age of Truman Capote’s Society Swans

carolina herrera pre fall 2022


They had been strolling, respiration Slim Aarons photographs come to life—actually. The photographer who outlined midcentury fashion by taking photographs of “engaging folks doing engaging issues in engaging locations” often captured them at house and at play, and sometimes each. Some 60 years later, very like “walkers” and lengthy lunches at La Côte Basque, these fashionable girls—whom Truman Capote dubbed his “swans”—have largely pale from view.

However this season, they took wing once more. Look no additional than the 2022 pre-fall exhibits at New York Trend Week, the place the swans’ silhouettes discovered their method into collections as diverse as Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera, Khaite, and Christopher John Rogers—full with some completely trendy updates. At Oscar, completely lower tweed fits got here with assertion buttons and naked midriffs. Carolina Herrera’s fashions stood on pedestals, however their swanlike ensembles included down-to-earth touches like cutouts; Rogers up to date basic silhouettes with daring stripes and one-of-a-kind hats. These are garments for a girl who prizes individuality, perhaps even eccentricity, in a sea of algorithm-driven sameness.

“The swans didn’t simply have cash and elegance, however a unprecedented presentation that Truman Capote thought-about an artwork kind,” says Laurence Leamer, writer of final 12 months’s group biography Capote’s Ladies, now being tailored for the subsequent season of FX’s Feud. “Within the postwar world, they legitimized elegant costume as a worthy concern, and that stays with us right this moment.”

Figures like Babe Paley, C. Z. Visitor, Slim Keith, and Gloria Guinness mixed cash with idiosyncratic style in a method that resonates in our new regular of Zoom calls and athleisure. With their households and fortunes, they dominated New York society in its nice final gasp in the course of the ’50s and ’60s—defining the girl who lunches, in addition to the girl who’s tastefully photographed in her Billy Baldwin-designed front room, effortlessly setting developments.

“Ladies throughout all geographies and ages are wanting fabulous, glamorous, heart-skip-a-beat moments from trend.”

—Wes Gordon, inventive director of Carolina Herrera

a brunette white woman wears a backless black dress with a pink tulle bow

A glance from Carolina Herrera pre-fall 2022.


The idea stays, although in a drastically altered kind. “A contemporary swan just isn’t somebody who is barely influential inside their social circle, however somebody who makes use of their attain to vary the world round them,” says Lisa Aiken, trend and way of life director of Neiman Marcus. “Somebody like Aurora James involves thoughts.” James, the founding father of trend label Brother Vellies and the nonprofit The Fifteen % Pledge, which promotes Black-owned manufacturers, is an ideal instance of this revised archetype. Now not are swans robotically assumed to be uniformly white, rich girls; nor can we consider those that wish to emulate them as such.

an asian woman in a green backless gown and green shoes

A glance from Christopher John Rogers pre-fall 2022.

César Buitrago

Immediately’s designers acknowledge the facility of individuality italicized, irrespective of the wearer’s age or background. “It’s potential to faucet into an essence of magnificence and glamour that isn’t simply owned by one decade,” says Wes Gordon, inventive director of Carolina Herrera. “And I feel now can be a second the place we’re seeing that be embraced. Ladies throughout all geographies and ages are wanting fabulous, glamorous, heart-skip-a-beat moments from trend.” And we’re undoubtedly able to revive what Gordon calls “the exuberance” of the way in which the swans lived. Most of the pre-fall collections felt like a color-saturated name to arms for a extra expansive life after a interval of circumscribed dwelling.

a woman in a pink tulle gown stands on a balcony

Oscar de la Renta pre-fall 2022.

Courtesy of the designer.

“For over a decade now, we now have seen the mass casualization of trend, so it is smart that on this second, we’re craving another—particularly as we emerge from the pandemic,” Aiken says. Now designers are homing in on what she describes because the swans’ “effortlessly polished fashion and class.” In an age of influencers, followers, and little or no thriller, the swans possess an actual attraction. “We noticed solely what they needed us to see,” Aiken says.

We’re all prepared for a cause to embrace individuality, and to emulate fictional mannequin Magazine Wildwood in Capote’s basic Breakfast at Tiffany’s (whose indelible creation Holly Golightly greater than barely resembled a few of his swans). Magazine’s magnificence, he wrote, happened as the results of “exaggerating defects: she’d made them decorative by admitting them boldly.” Like Magazine, just like the swans, we might all use a push to reside life—and costume for it—with an exclamation level.

This text seems within the June/July 2022 situation of ELLE.

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