Marella Agnelli, Italian aristocrat and style icon, is the inspiration behind Louise Kennedy’s latest collection …
American author Truman Capote is most famous for his novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s about Holly Golightly, a young society It girl, and also for his non-fiction work In Cold Blood – recounting the murder of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas in 1959. The latter, apparently, one of the most successful true crime books in history for which his fellow novelist Harper Lee was an assistant researchist.
Because of Blood’s success, and the innovative way in which Capote wrote, he became a celebrity and often appeared on television spinning outrageous tales in a high-pitched lisping Southern drawl. He also notably hosted a masked ball in honour of The Washington Post publisher Katherine Graham. The so-called “Black and White Ball”, held in the Plaza Hotel New York, has often been described as the social event of the 20th century. Capote particularly enjoyed deciding who was “in” and who was “out” on the guest list. Guaranteed an invite were his inner circle of beautiful female friends, whom he anointed as his “Swans”.
These swans included socialite Gloria Guinness, Lee Radziwell (Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s sister), CZ Guest, a cover girl and muse of Slim Aarons, Babe Paley, the wife of tycoon William S Paley, Slim Keith, a Californian It girl who is credited with discovering Lauren Bacall and Marella Agnelli, an Italian aristocrat who married Giovanni Agnelli, the playboy heir to the Fiat empire in 1957.
Marella Agnelli was often compared to a Modigliani painting, because of her impossibly long neck, famously captured in a black and white portrait by photographer Richard Avedon, now hanging in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Capote once told Katharine Graham that if Babe Paley and Mrs Agnelli “were both in Tiffany’s window, Marella would be a little more expensive.”
Marella collected houses, had a penchant for decorating and gardening, amassed an impressive art collection and was one of Valentino Garavani’s earliest and most loved clients. Her style credentials were impeccable – she often appeared in Vogue magazine and was inducted to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1963. She had a chic short coiffure, her favourite colour was pink, and she is synonymous with wearing kaftans and black turtle neck sweaters.
Marella is a muse for Louise Kennedy’s AW22 collection, which recreates her style with a contemporary relevance and includes vibrant accessories, bright textured knits, geometric printed silks and intricate embellished pieces.
Kennedy remarks: “Marella Agnelli was the epitome of Italian glamour, known for her refined, elegant aesthetic. Society’s “last swan” embraced colour and print, always dressing with such effortless elegance. She often opted for graceful kaftans and flattering shift dresses, capturing the essence of understated glamour that is emblematic of our AW22 collection and represented in pieces like airy, embellished kaftan dresses, and soft-silhouetted dresses and capes.”
As for the swans, they are the subject of Laurence Leamer’s (must-read) book Capote’s Women: A True Story of Love, Betrayal, and a Swan Song For An Era, which is to be serialised in Ryan Murphy’s Feud: Season 2, filming for which begins later this year. This is to be directed by Gus Van Sant, and to date Naomi Watts has been signed to play Babe Paley. Finding the right actress to play Marella Agnelli may prove difficult.
Need to Know: Shop the Louise Kennedy AW22 collection on www.louisekennedy.com. Prices starting from €295 to €2,995 for the more limited editions.
Magenta Ania Feather dress, €695.
Aletta pearl and quartz necklace, €695.
Tatum tweed embellished shift dress, €995.
Louise tweed, black and white cross body bag, €995.
Yasmin silk ruffle blouse, €995.