From New York’s upper class of the 1960s to the rest of the world today, but who were the Swans?

Words: Diletta Marsili

“Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, “In Cold Blood”, “Other Voices, Other Rooms” are just some of the most celebrated works by Truman Capote, writer, and narrator of the sparkling New York of the 60s who, behind his immense success, conceals a host of “super women” to whom he owes not only many of the plots of stories he narrates, but above all, his own social position.
Truman Capote with Babe Paley (right) and Gloria Guinness
Truman Capote with Babe Paley (right) and Gloria Guinness - Photo courtesy of Archivio Franco Marabelli

The so-called Swans, named by the writer himself specifically to define his friends in all their austere beauty, were among the most successful women in an almost unparalleled society for their own magnificence. The long and rich list of friends immersed in luxury boasts prominent personalities such as Babe Paley, Marella Agnelli, Gloria Guinness and C.Z. Guest, women to whom their abilities are unpredictably hidden and ignored, to emphasize the wealth of their husbands’ wallets. Although placed in a not so distant but certainly different era, these American bourgeois heroines held important directional and creative roles, as well as being true style icons – from the position of Fashion Editor from Harper’s Bazaar to inspiring muses of photographers like Richard Avedon – their dictates were cast gold.

To define the situation in more modern terms, we could talk about the first generation of “It-girls.”
Such was their influence, even grown over time, that the designer Massimo Giorgetti decided to inspire his collection Fall Winter 2024/2025 “Other Voices, Other Rooms” to the acclaimed world of Swans, witnesses of a creativity that has a taste of the past, but that despite being very far from the ordinary is continuously able to amaze. The claim of the collection is an ode to Capote and the world he told. Observing one by one the outputs of the defilé is clear how Giorgetti wanted to pay homage to the American socialites in all their splendour, using lace, suits, fur coats and patterns.
MSGM AI 2024 2025
MSGM AI 2024 2025
At this point, a question arises spontaneously: is it possible to identify exemplary female figures today, not only from rich bourgeois class, but above all cultured and emanating beauty? The answer does not come easily, because given today’s society, there are few ones that, like those mentioned above, in addition to a good aesthetic appearance could be able to raise the bar at a cultural level. It is evident the difference between the society of the past years, cultured and elitist, and that of today, individualist and looking for unique characters that make it interesting.
With the words of Zygmunt Bauman, what we live in is a Liquid Society, in which “no one is a fellow traveler but antagonist of each other” and this does not easily allow for the mixing of different groups of interests, as we tend to lock ourselves into separate and distinct sectors that we do not want to be merged with others.
MSGM AI 2024 2025
Prints look inspired by the paintings of Belgian painter Jan De Vliegher
The Swans’ superpower was exactly this, thanks to their charm they intertwined the threads of an extremely varied society that was opening to other worlds weaving knowledge and opportunities that were never conflicting. So, who are the swans of the 2000s? But more precisely, in a society that has completely changed its remains, what female figures could hold this office with such a sophisticated allure?