Carbon 6 Lab Draws Inspiration from the Legendary Black & White Ball - 1966

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Remember, remember, the 28th of November: November 28, 1966, to be precise. On this celebrated date in high society history, American author Truman Capote hosted the Black and White Ball at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. This month, Carbon 6 Lab draws inspiration from this legendary social event’s unique mix of aesthetic clarity and glamorous intention.

Following the release of his critically acclaimed, best-selling true crime novel “In Cold Blood,” Capote decided to celebrate in high style by throwing a big, lavish party. He derived aesthetic inspiration for the event from a previous black and white ball he’d attended, hosted by fellow author Dominick Dunne, and from the movie My Fair Lady, which included a scene in which all of the female characters (including Audrey Hepburn’s Eliza Dolittle) were styled in black and white.

Since it would have been viewed by the cultural elite as déclassé to throw oneself a party, Capote knew he needed to anoint a special guest of honor for the evening to stave off any such criticism. His choice? The Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham, whose newspaper would later print the Pentagon Papers, which led to Nixon’s resignation.

In addition to choosing a fabulous guest of honor, Capote had to pick the perfect venue for his soirée. He chose the Grand Ballroom of Manhattan’s fabled Plaza Hotel. He enlisted his personal decorator, Evie Backer, to help design the event's look. To add color to the room’s existing white and gold palette, Capote and Backer added red tablecloths to the tables, which were then adorned with gold candelabras reflective of the ballroom’s golden walls.

The evening’s food and drink menu was kept simple: Taittinger champagne was poured all night, while a plate of scrambled eggs, sausage, biscuits, pastries, spaghetti and meatballs, and chicken hash (the Plaza’s specialty) was served at midnight. Despite the minimal drink options at the party, the amount served was anything but: the champagne was said to have flowed "like the Mississippi, or the Nile,” according to guest and socialite C.Z. Guest.

Outshining the event’s setting and menu, however, was the stunning gallery of famous faces in attendance, including young actress Mia Farrow and her then-husband, actor and singer Frank Sinatra…

… Designer, heiress and socialite Gloria Vanderbilt, with her husband, author and screenwriter Wyatt Emory Cooper…

… Actor Henry Fonda and his wife, Shirlee Mae Adams…

… Artist Andy Warhol…

… ‘60s British fashion model Penelope Tree…

… and young actress Candice Bergen.

The Black and White Ball kicked off a trend of costume and masquerade parties amongst the elite that continues today, while its invigorating combination of style and taste remains a continuing influence on our own unique product line.


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