At the height of mid-century New York City, there was nothing more glamorous than Truman Capote’s inner circle of irresistible, beautiful, and wealthy women, notably labeled his ‘Swans.’ As someone who desperately craved the allure and prestige afforded to the elite, Capote knew the importance of having well-to-do friends, as he explained, “I like being able to fly where others walk. It’s marvelous to appreciate paintings, but why not have them?”

Although he wasn’t in a position to entertain guests with original Picasso paintings himself, he figured he could at the very least be granted access to the finest clubs and exclusive townhouses of his era. What most inspired him about these captivating swans was not only their money and style, but the stories that came with them, a fascination which would later lead to the writer's downfall. After releasing early chapters of his unfinished novel, titled Answered Prayers, where he not-so-subtly nodded to his friends' personal dramas, the women were quick to banish him. 'Twas the definition of social suicide, and a move from which his status never recovered.

Decades later, of course, Capote is recognized as a groundbreaking genius, while the legacy of his swans, in their own right, lives on.

Meet the iconic women behind the author's enduring rise in stature and consequential fall from (social) grace.

[Photo via Getty]