Parties are something of an escape chute: the festive indulgences allow us to escape reality and enter a new world, even if just for one night. This is never more true than around Halloween, when the devilish and macabre enter the scene. As we prepare for the most surreal night of the year, we like to imagine what it would be like to be trapped in the haunted house of Lewis Carroll’s dreamlike, drug-altered Wonderland.
On December 12, 1972, Baron Guy de Rothschild and his wife Marie-Hélène hosted a costumed ball stranger than fiction. Château de Ferrières was on fire, sleeping cats the size of men littered the staircase, and all-enveloping cobwebs lined the hallways.The acid-laced zeitgeist of the 70s had trickled up and finally reached the ranks of the Parisian elite in the form of the Rothschilds’ theatrical Dîner des Têtes Surréalistes.
Truman Capote sat poolside, writing deliberately in a 10-cent composition book. The writer had made a name for himself with his 1958 novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s and, by early 1966, was making headlines with his true crime thriller In Cold Blood. But his latest work was more important and daring than either book: for months, Capote wrote and rewrote the 540 names that would make the final guest list for his lavish Black and White Ball.