It was only a matter of time before creators started taking inspiration from Ryan Murphy's new show, Feud: Capote against the swans, in which glamorous costumes play a big role. But for designers Mark Badgley and James Mischka, the fall reference felt especially authentic, given that they were used to mingling with some of the New York socialites the series is based on. “James and I were fortunate to live down the street from CZ Guest,” Badgley said. “We were together constantly: I lived with her in Palm Beach for a year. I have always been very inspired by how she came together and by the stories of her friends.
This season, the designer duo wanted to pay homage to the elegant evening wear that the Swans wore for their high-profile galas and cocktails. “The way they dressed back then — a beautiful column dress with a flirty detail — is a lot like the way our girls like to dress today,” Badgley said. “Everything is bold and simple.” The resulting challenge, however, was finding a way to create retro glamor that feels current – and doesn't feel like a costume. To do this, the couple relied on their signature assortment of evening gowns, cocktail dresses and suits in a more subdued color palette, designing around metallics, blacks and jewel tones. “We've been doing so many colors lately, but all of a sudden our ladies love black again,” he added.
Some looks seemed modern and worthy of a Swan 2024. An elegant sequinned navy sheath dress featured an asymmetrical ruched detail, giving it just enough visual interest; ditto for the gunmetal gray suit and magenta one-shoulder dress with opera gloves, perfect for sneaking into any downtown party. There were, however, other looks that would simply never be worn below 14th Street – and perhaps that was the whole point. The Chanel-style tweeds seemed a bit too lady-lunching, and one wonders if a woman would feel better in lots and lots of ruffles, which were added to some of their maxi dresses. Here again, being a swan means leaning into the superfluous.
Whether fancy dresses are your taste or not, there's no denying that the Upper East Side aesthetic is one the brand has been perfecting for years — the Swans inspiration was a match made in heaven. The duo even has in mind a new series of Swans to carry this latest collection. Namely the girls of their long-standing clientele. “All of our clients’ daughters are now entering the company,” Mischka said. He envisions the new plays on names like Guardiola's Mercedes. “She is beautiful, elegant and already a published author,” Mischka said. “Bright And beautiful.”