Feud: Capote vs. The Swans

Feud: Capote vs. The Swans

When the second season of Ryan Murphy's FX series Feud premiered last January, we were beyond excited after waiting seven long years since the first epic season about Joan Crawford and Bette Davis ended.

Capote vs. The Swans depicts the story of Truman Capote orchestrating his own downfall by writing about the personal lives of the jet-setting socialites he had befriended on his way to the top. The eight-episode season is based on the bestselling book Capote's Women: A True Story of Love, Betrayal, and a Swan Song for an Era by Laurence Elmer. 

We created some fun content to coincide with the series release, which we had the thrill of supplying costumes for! 

We re-created vintage photos of the beautiful swans who inspired the characters on the show. We also did our own version of the teaser trailer! See the results below! Also, don't miss what we rented to the production and what we caught on screen at the bottom of the page!

Link to our version of the teaser trailer:




Babe Paley

Barbara Cushing Mortimer Paley, AKA Babe Paley 🦢

Truman Capote’s most beloved swan, below are our versions of two of the loveliest images captured of her in the 1940s.

(1) Photographed by Horst P. Horst for Vogue in 1946, wearing a dress by Traina-Norell and draped in pearls.

(2) Photographed by John Rawlings for the February 1st 1941 issue of American Vogue, wearing a black skirt suit with yellow and green accessories. This was a very patriotic ‘Americana’ issue during WWII, highlighting the American fashion industry. The article that features Babe modelling was called ‘New Fashions from American Primitives’ and includes two additional photos, one of them with her sister Betsey Cushing Roosevelt, daughter-in-law to the president. They are wearing designs by John-Frederics, inspired by the paintings they are standing in front of.

The clothing and accessories used to style these images were taken from our rentals collection. The black and white dress of the first image is from the 1970s, while everything used in the second image was faithfully taken from the 1940s.

Naomi Watts played Babe on Feud!



C.Z Guest 

Lucy Cochrane “C.Z.” Guest was photographed by Slim Aarons at the Guest family Palm Beach mansion ‘Villa Artemis’ in 1955. 

Some photos from this set appeared in Slims’ book “A Wonderful Time: An Intimate Portrait of a Good Life” (1974).

His lush colour photographs immortalized mid-century luxury and the lives of the American Jet-set. 

"Who," wrote Capote, "could have imagined that lurking inside this cool vanilla lady was a madcap, laughing tomboy? Well, I suppose anyone who knew her background: a trimly, tautly brought up Boston girl, the daughter of a Brahmin, she left society for stage, films and, finding no satisfaction there, went adventuring in Mexico, where Diego Rivera painted her, aged 22, as a honey-haired odalisque desnuda, a famous portrait that, according to legend, adorned a bar in Mexico City."

C.Z. is played by Chloe Sevigny on Capote vs. The Swans. 

The outfits below were styled with items from our rentals collection. 

Lee Radziwill

“Truman and Lee had a special kinship. Whatever Lee did, wherever she went, she felt she was second best, always standing in the gigantic shadow of her older sister. As for Truman, as a gay man he felt that when he went into the salons of the powerful and elegant, he could always be spurned, no matter how successful he was as a writer. That was the shadow that hung over him. With each other, they felt strangely secure in their perceived second-best status.”

“Knowing how much Lee loved publicity, Truman gave her the greatest gift he could: a one-page celebration in Vogue in June 1976. He called it ‘Lee: A Fan Letter from Truman Capote,’ and it was a sea of hyperbole. There was one assertion after another about how great Lee was with her ‘first-class intelligence,’ her ‘beautiful eyes wide-apart, gold-brown like a glass of brandy resting on a table in front of a firelight.’ That was heavy-duty work for a jigger of brandy."

"Truman was not through giving. Later that year, in a cover story on Lee in People, he gave a gushy tribute that opened the piece: ‘She’s a remarkable girl. She’s all the things people give Jackie credit for. All the looks, style, taste—Jackie never had them at all, and yet it was Lee who lived in the shadow of this super-something person.’ It was not enough to praise Lee. Jackie must be denigrated. The sisters were on a teeter-totter. If one rose up, the other must go down.”

The above excerpts taken from ‘Capote’s Women’ by Laurence Leamer, the book upon which the series is based on. 

Photo One: Truman Capote escorts Lee to a reception at the Four Seasons following the premiere of Capote's film 'Trilogy: An Experiment in Multimedia,' New York, November 5, 1969. Lee is wearing a fur coat, which she was so famous for donning, with a white turtleneck top, a black skirt and a beret. 

The coat we have used in our photo to substitute Lee’s one is an early 1970s white shaggy Mongolian lamb fur coat from our collection. 

Photo Two: Lee wearing a pink Givenchy gown with a Lesage-embroidered bodice at Buckingham Palace in 1961, where she accompanied her sister during a Kennedy presidential visit to the UK. 

Henry J Wilkinson, a graduate of London’s Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and Givenchy collector, bought the bodice of this dress for 200GBP from a seller who had found it in the costume department of a London theatre. He set about restoring it to its former glory. Henry worked for several months as a research intern at Givenchy in Paris where he was able to confirm that the dress was custom made for a high profile client in the 60s but there was no information on who that client was. Toronto based vintage dealer Cherie Balch of Shrimpton Couture sponsored Henry to restore the gown for $500. He identified the original fabric of the skirt to be silk zibeline and got some dyed by Atelier Nine to match the bodice exactly. In January of 2021, a follower (@jesusmuoti) sent him a picture of Lee Radziwill wearing the dress and the mystery of who it belonged to was solved! She wore the dress two other times in 1961- In Paris to a reception hosted by Charles de Gaulle and to the Red Cross Gala in Monte Carlo with Princess Grace and the Agnelli’s in attendance. 

It was surmised that Lee had probably donated the gown to the theatre and over the years it had been reused for various shows with the skirt having been cut off at one point. 

The dress we have used in our photo to substitute the Givenchy one for is a 1960s satin gown from our collection with a heavily beaded/sequinned bodice, which extends down the skirt at the front. There is no label. It is similar to many Givenchy dresses of the era and bares particular resemblance to Audrey Hepburn’s pink Givenchy dress from Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961). 

Lee was played by Calista Flockhart in Feud.

Nancy ‘Slim’ Keith 

"God blessed me with a happy spirit and many other gifts. What I was not blessed with I went out and got. Sometimes the price was too high, but I've never been much of a bargain hunter." From her memoir ‘Slim: Memories of a Rich and Imperfect Life’ (1991).

Truman affectionately referred to Slim as “Big Mama” during their friendship. She was a cool California girl with casual chic style unlike most of the other Swans who dressed far more ostentatiously. 

Photo One: Slim wearing a black and white check suit with a black knit top. This outfit was the inspiration for one that Lauren Bacall’s character ‘Slim’ wears in Howard Hawks’ To Have and Have Not (1944).  

Slim discovered Lauren as a model and got her husband at the time (Hawks) to cast her in the film. Hawks based the character on his wife and gave her the same nickname in the movie. 

The suit we have used to recreate the photo is a 1940s pink and blue houndstooth check suit by Poslans tailors. 

Photo Two: Nearly 40 years later, Slim attending The Met in New York, December 1979, wearing a metallic Bill Blass gown, in a rare moment of flashiness. Nan Kempner can be seen in the background. 

The dress we used form our collection is a metallic 1970s abstract print maxi dress with the label ‘Tissus Haute Couture Wurmser Paris’ Made in France. And ‘Original by Natalie of Ottawa’. 

Joanne Copeland-Carson 

“…Joanne was so insecure (and so desirous of having Truman as her friend) that she did not let the shattering portrayal [of her in La Cote Basque] bother her.”

She said that Truman “looked like a baby that had been slapped”.  

He stayed with her in California in 1984 while he worked on Answered Prayers. She found him very weak one morning. “Just let whatever is going to happen, happen. I’m tired. I don’t want any more hospitals, any more doctors, any more IVs…I’m very, very tired. I just want to go in peace.” And he did. 

Joanne had him cremated and his ashes divided into two urns; one was given to Truman’s partner Jack Dunphy. 

Joanne thought Truman had a finished copy of Answers Prayers hidden away somewhere but they never found it if he had. 

She turned her house into a shrine for Truman, keeping his writing room in her back kitchen exactly as it had been and buying up all of his possessions at auction. 

Before Truman died, he had given her instructions on how to throw an eighties version of his 1966 Black and White Ball. She sent out invitations to everyone in Hollywood but no-one would come to a party hosted by Johnny Carson’s ex wife and risk not being asked on his show again. 

She divided his ashes again, placing half in a crypt at Westwood Village Memorial Park beside Marilyn Monroe’s. His remains replaced Peter Lawford’s (Patricia Kennedy’s husband) as his family hadn’t paid for the spot. 

She kept the remaining quarter of his ashes for the rest of her life. They were sold at auction in 2016 for $45,000.

Joanne’s ashes were placed next to Truman’s at Westwood. 

Photo One: A photoshoot for TV Guide in 1964. Joanne is wearing a yellow 2-piece dress and yellow headband. 

Photo Two: Johnny and Joanne’s wedding in 1963. Joanne wore a custom-made silk ivory dress with black rose print and floral hat that sold at auction for $769 in recent years. 

They separated in 1970. 

Joanne is played by Molly Ringwald in Capote vs. The Swans.

Ann Woodward

The last mid-century socialite of our Feud set, "The Most Beautiful Girl in Radio" turned rumoured murderer was shunned from New York high society after shooting her husband at home following a Wallis Simpson party in 1955. Life magazine referred to it as ‘the shooting of the century’. Truman Capote dredged up the past in 1975 with his La Cote Basque story and Ann killed herself the day it was published. He referred to her as ‘Mrs. Bang Bang’ after the two struck a dislike for one another. Roseanne Montillo’s book Deliberate Cruelty recounts the story of Ann and Truman.

Photo 1: Ann posing with an NBC microphone wearing a blazer and blouse with a bow in her hair and a floral brooch on her lapel. Ann was a radio actress and host in the late 30s and early 40s. 

Photo 2: Surrealist portrait of Mrs. Ann Woodward by Salvador Dali, 1954. Dali painted many “society portraits” throughout the 40s, 50s and 60s. Ann hated the portrait and refused to pay for it. Dali sued her and Mr. Woodward settled it. She is wearing a white Grecian style gown in the painting. 

Ann is portrayed by Demi Moore on the show. 

What we rented to the production


We had the pleasure of working with the costume team in 2022 to provide many 60s and 70s pieces from our rental collection to dress both principal and background cast. Our collection manager Kristine sent photos of many options to the team for specific characters including Babe Paley, Lee Radziwill and Slim Keith as well as options for background actors in specific scenes and locations like the Black and White Ball and La Cote Basque restaurant, which appeared frequently throughout the season. Sometimes, a choice might be made for a principal cast member but later be switched to go to a background actor. We sent a lot of stock to the production but we couldn’t find any of our pieces on the main cast. The finale aired on March 13th and we scanned every episode watching out for our pieces. We caught a few on background actors in action but they were tricky to spot.

The following 3 dresses were caught during the Black and White Ball episode.


This dress was seen in episode 2:

And this last dress set was spotted at the dinner table in episode 5:

The remaining images contain a small selection of what else we sent to New York. 

Thank you to Lou Eyrich, Leah Katznelson, Rudy Mance and the rest of the team for working with us!

On a related note, back in 2004, lan rented a lot of 50s and 60s mens suits to the Truman Capote biopic starring Philip Seymour Hoffman that came out in 2005. It was a big menswear movie with lots of dark coloured suits on the cast and background actors.

Kasia Walicka Maimone (Moonrise Kingdom, Ready Player One, The Gilded Age) was the Costume designer of the movie. Kasia was nominated for a Costume Designers Guild award for her work on this film in the ‘Excellence in Period Film’ category. It was nominated for 5 Academy Awards including Best Picture. Philip Seymour Hoffman won for Best Actor.

Pictured are just a few examples of the vast selection of 60s suits we have in our rental stock.

We hope you found this post of interest and enjoyed our photo recreations as well as gaining an insight into the costume process of the show!

Please check out our extensive blogpost detailing the history of the real life characters portrayed in this series:


And our post about Truman Capote's Black and White Ball:


Most of this series is set in the 1970s. Shop for your very own 70s swan inspired look here:


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