On this day in 1966 impish writer and noted star-fucker Truman Capote threw a party for Katharine Graham, publisher of The Washington Post, in the Grand Ballroom of Manhattan's Plaza Hotel*; in the months leading up to the event all of society grew increasingly tense awaiting their invitations. Yet for some of the biggest names in New York, they never came...
Capote was incredibly canny when it came to managing socialites - at least, he was until he published Answered Prayers and all Hell broke loose - and he certainly knew how to get a reaction out of people. For months before the event he held the promise of an invite over the heads of the Social Register's Beautiful People; even as he was helping arguably the most powerful woman in the country to consolidate her power (for which he would ever after take credit) Capote's growing glee in that time came from having the sole power over distributing something to people accustomed to just buying whatever they wanted.
In the wake of the extraordinary success of his masterpiece In Cold Blood Capote added a soupçon of names from the book into the mix, allowing salt of the Earth Kansans involved in the tragedy which befell the Clutter Family to rub shoulders with blue bloods. It's hard to imagine today, but in those days the movers and shakers of politics, media, and the arts only occasionally met; Capote's throwing 540 of them together proved such a success that it made such cross-pollination virtually mandatory thereafter.
*The dress code was both modernist austere - men in black tie, ladies in black and white with fans, and both in masks - and Old World glamourous, which set the fashion establishments of New York and Paris all a-flutter.
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