Designers / Fashion / Industry

Verdura Plays a Juicy Starring Role on FX Series ‘Feud: Capote vs. the Swans’


Verdura is enjoying the wild ride that comes with being part of a costume drama pitting one of America’s most talented yet treacherous writers against powerful New York socialites.

The FX miniseries Feud: Capote vs. the Swans has Verdura jewelry front and center, allowing today’s jewelry buyers to see how the likes of Babe Paley, Slim Keith, and Lee Radziwill wore their pieces—and to start picking up Verdura for themselves.

“The creators and actors of Capote vs. the Swans put in remarkable effort to capture the exceptional glamour of this era, and we were delighted so much of our jewelry was captured on screen—occasionally even as an integral part of the plot,” Verdura CEO Ward Landrigan tells JCK. “It’s refreshing to know that great style never goes out of fashion.”

Swans scene
Naomi Watts as Babe Paley (right) wears Verdura’s signature Pinwheel earclips ($18,500) in this Feud: Capote vs. the Swans scene with Diane Lane as Slim Keith. The brand says the earrings are selling well as a result of the show. 

The show, set in the 1960s through ’80s, depicts the friendship and eventual estrangement of writing legend Truman Capote and the high-society women he affectionately called “the Swans.” Based on Laurence Leamer’s book Capote’s Women: A True Story of Love, Betrayal, and a Swan Song for an Era, the eight-episode series was cocreated by producer Ryan Murphy. Most episodes were directed by indie filmmaker Gus Van Sant, known for such movies as My Own Private Idaho, Drugstore Cowboy, and To Die For.

Verdura has promoted its role in Capote vs. The Swans on its social media, relishing how the jewelry is discussed and displayed. Rumor has it that several of the pieces from the series have sold out, but Verdura says it prefers not to comment on its sales other than to note its team “is thrilled with the response from both new admirers and Verdura collectors.” The show mostly highlights Verdura’s Museum collection, which includes several signature designs.

The company confirmed that Paley (played on Feud by Naomi Watts) and Keith (Diane Lane) were personal friends as well as clients of brand founder Fulco di Verdura for several decades. Radziwill (Calista Flockhart) and Ann Woodward (portrayed by Demi Moore) also were clients.

Verdura bracelet
Babe Paley receives this Verdura X bracelet, featuring diamonds, rubellite, platinum, and gold, on an episode of Capote vs. the Swans

The ever-charming Capote wormed his way into these women’s lives, becoming their closest confidant in some cases. But when he saw a literary opportunity, his writing exposed many secrets they wanted to keep. The women retaliated by snubbing Capote, who began a freefall that led to his untimely death. Capote promised that his book about the Swans, Answered Prayers, would be his best work—but it was never finished.

As juicy as it sounds, Feud: Capote vs. the Swans also is filled with amazing costumes, incredible sets, and the most beautiful jewelry—including pieces from Verdura that the women talk about in pivotal scenes.

“Verdura’s jewelry, like Capote’s Swans, was eye-catching but not too obvious—stylish but never trendy,” Landrigan says. “When I bought Verdura in 1985, some of the first people through the door were Marella Agnelli, Slim Keith, C.Z. Guest [played by ChlSevigny], Lee Radziwill, and the Paley family. Duke Fulco di Verdura and his clients and friends were the tastemakers in the world at the time, and this story was ripe for telling.”

Verdura necklace
On Feud, Bill Paley (Treat Williams), the head of CBS and philandering husband of Babe, gives his wife the Verdura Y necklace ($48,500).

Verdura’s Pinwheel earclips, worn by Babe Paley in the first episode, have gotten a lot of traction from the Swans of the TV show, and you can see why. The earrings incorporate Verdura’s signature rope knot design, a nautical motif the duke remembered from his youth in Sicily, with gold contrasting with the diamonds’ brilliance to create a look that goes well during the day or night.

Other Verdura pieces seen on Babe are the Wrapped Pearl earclips and ring, all made with South Sea cultured pearls encased with gold nautical rope. The Pinwheel earclips date to 1957, and the Wrapped Pearl pieces are from the 1940s and 1950s, Verdura says.

Verdura pearls
The Verdura Wrapped Pearl earclips ($12,500) feature South Sea cultured pearls wrapped in nautical gold rope, a favorite motif of Fulco di Verdura, who grew up near the water in Sicily. 

Episode 2 featured the Y necklace with South Sea pearls—inspired by Verdura’s collaboration with Coco Chanel and reflecting Verdura’s casual treatment of pearls, which he intended people to wear and enjoy—as well as Net Drop earclips, which the December 1940 Vogue raved were “flawed yet perfect.” Verdura set vibrant-hued stones in yellow gold and used the rope detailing for the design.

Capote vs. the Swans premiered Jan. 31 and continues through March 13, when the final episode will air. The show is on FX on Wednesday and streams the next day on Hulu.

Top: Naomi Watts and ChlSevigny, as socialites Babe Paley and C.Z. Guest, wear Verdura jewels on the FX limited series Feud: Capote vs. the Swans. (Feud photos courtesy of FX Networks; jewelry photos courtesy of Verdura)

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Karen Dybis

By: Karen Dybis

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