Mr. Truman Capote requests the pleasure of your company at his black and white dance
Celebrated author Truman Capote hosted and choreographed the event following two monumental literary successes. His first 1958 novella, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” was adapted and released in October, 1961 as an era-defining film, featuring Audrey Hepburn as the quintessence of New York élan. His second novel, “In Cold Blood,” was deemed a smash hit, and catapulted him and his “hot book” to command the January 24, 1966 cover of “Newsweek.”
In order to avoiding criticism elicited by throwing a lavish gala to celebrate the movie and book’s resounding success, Capote identified an alternative recipient in his dear friend Katharine Graham. He set to work, and spent his entire summer laboring over a guest list that had tapped into every facet of the day’s social, political, and cultural scene, finally whittling it down to an intimate 540 “friends”. Guests included Frank Sinatra, Mia Farrow, Babe Paley, Candice Bergen, Gloria Guinness and Lee Radziwill.
Katharine Graham recounts the event in her Pulitzer Prize winning memoir, Personal History:
"The publicity and higher profile frightened me a little, and might actually have hurt me - probably should have, given the serious, professional person I was trying to be. Oddly, however, the party itself for the most part escaped being described as Marie-Antoinette’s last fling.
Perhaps this was because the women’s movement had not yet come to the fore, and it was before the most serious racial urban problems surfaced and before Vietnam became the burning issue that so dominated our society. This was the last possible moment such a party could take place and not be widely excoriated."
(New York: Knopf, 1997)
The work to digitize, conserve, and catalog these women’s garments from our celebrated Costumes and Textiles Collection is supported by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ (IMLS) Museums for America program.