On Tuesday night, actresses, producers and television executives, many draped in black and white feathered gowns, trickled into the Plaza Hotel to celebrate the premiere of FX’s “Feud: Capote vs. the Swans,” a limited series starting on Jan. 31.
The show focuses on the schism between the novelist Truman Capote, played by Tom Hollander, and the coterie of New York City socialites he befriended. The women severed ties with Capote after a fictionalized excerpt from his unfinished novel was published in Esquire magazine in 1975, which aired some of their closest-held secrets.
Some of the society fixtures, whom Capote referred to as his “swans,” are played by a distinguished cast: Barbara “Babe” Paley (Naomi Watts), Nancy “Slim” Keith (Diane Lane), C. Z. Guest (Chloë Sevigny), Lee Radziwill (Calista Flockhart), Joanne Carson (Molly Ringwald) and Ann Woodward (Demi Moore). The series is based on “Capote’s Women,” a 2021 book by Laurence Leamer.
Around 10 p.m., following a screening at the Museum of Modern Art, more than 400 guests filled the gold-trimmed Grand Ballroom of the Plaza for a party inspired by the lavish Black and White Ball, which Capote hosted in 1966 in the same room, and is fictionalized in the series. The Times’s Charlotte Curtis reported that “international Who’s Who of notables” attended including Frank Sinatra, Mia Farrow and the Maharani of Jaipur.
As was the case nearly 60 years ago, white and transparent balloons hung from the ceiling near the chandelier, and public figures filled the room. Bethenny Frankel, the reality star, swayed on the dance floor. Nearby, Mr. Hollander chatted with Bob Iger, the chief executive of Disney. Ms. Moore posed for photos with Mr. Murphy. Zac Posen, who worked on the costumes for the Black and White Ball depicted on the show, sat next to the singer Debbie Harry. Emma Roberts, among the first to arrive, mingled with guests.
A crowd lined buffet tables featuring meatballs and orecchiette while servers offering crab cakes and tuna tartare circled mannequins in looks from the show, designed by the costume designer Lou Eyrich. Ms. Ringwald took a selfie with some of the “drag swans,” floating around the room, who were inspired by the main characters of the show.
Many of the attendees said they would have liked to attend the original Black and White ball. Ms. Watts, who plays Ms. Paley, said she would have wanted to shadow Capote. “He would have known how to find all the great corners, all the drama,” Ms. Watts said, who is an executive producer on the show.
Ms. Flockhart, who portrays Ms. Radziwill, the former princess and younger sister of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, said she would have wanted to meet her character. “I think maybe I would ask her what I should wear to dinner next week on Friday night,” Ms. Flockhart said. “She’d probably be very fancy and tell me not to wear my jeans and my sneakers.”
Mr. Hollander said he wouldn’t have cared about an invitation to the Black and White Ball.
“I think, honestly, most parties where everyone’s hysterical to get invited, I don’t believe that the actual party itself is any good,” he said, continuing, “Anything with that much expectation and social pressure I think would be horrible.”
He would, however, want to know what was happening in the bathroom, he said, and imagined, “people just gentle sobbing.”
Right before midnight, Ms. Ringwald and Mr. Posen joined the crowd that surrounded the dance floor as the “drag swans” emerged for a performance set to Bryan Ferry’s “Let’s Stick Together,” a song that is also featured in the show.
Now wearing pearls and black pencil dresses instead of their elaborate ball gowns, the drag performers represented feelings of anger and pain from the aftermath of Mr. Capote’s Esquire article, which is explored in the show.
Some of the performers screamed in anguish and ripped replicas of the magazine’s 1975 November issue. The crowd cheered as other performers triumphantly stomped on each balloon that Capote, portrayed by the aerialist, dropped from the ceiling much like the writer’s cutting remarks.