Wednesday, July 6, 2011

ICON OF THE WEEK: Halston, The American Designer

Anything Halston designed, and I do mean Halston circa 1970, just sends me over the moon! He was the ultimate purveyor of disco era 70s sleek and slender glamour. He made beauty more mobile with movement, color, and layers of body. Everything he touched was certified fashion gold to include the bevy of models that he introduced to the world; the Halstonettes, Anjelica Houston and Pat Cleveland.  He was a celebrated favorite amongst the Studio 54 crowd. The NY socialites crowned him a true gem and a gem he truly was.  He counted Bianca Jagger and Liza Minelli as both clients and true friends. He was the life of the party and the designer of its key characters. 



Born Roy Frowick Halston in Des Moines, Iowa, Halston's life story was anything but glamourous. He led the normal life of a child raised in the Midwest.   His sewing career would be inspired by his mothers love for sewing. Early on he displayed an interest in Millinery or "hat making".  In 1952, Halston enrolled in the Chicago Art Institute and worked during the day as a window dresser. Eventually his milliner work caught the eye of the Chicago Daily News and its readers, as his sales experienced an increase and his name would be reduced to one powerful brand moniker; HALSTON. 


In 1959 he continued his work alongside world renowned milliner, Lilly Dache'. After a year of hard work, she gave him the role of co-designer at Dache'. Shortly after this accomplishment, Halston accepted a position at Bergdorf Goodman, where he became a bonafide hit with the clientele and became the famous department stores first designer to have his named placed in his hats. He would also go on to design one of the most famous pill box hats in fashion history worn by Jackie Kennedy during the Presidential Inauguration.  In  a span of 5 years, Halston would be awarded the 1962 COTY Fashion Critics Award and the Women's Wear Daily, "New York's Top Milliner" accolade. By 1966 he would launch his first ready - to - wear line and by 1968 he would open his own salon in Bergdorf's making him not only a household name, but THE greatest American Designer of all time. 


By the 1970s, the HALSTON brand would become synonymous with the look, feel, smell, and sound of the disco era.  He would release a number of products under the HALSTON name with over 31 different products ranging from clothing and fragrance to designer house ware and luggage. 



Sadly, the 1980s weren't as kind as the disco era and the HALSTON label would experience a decline with the introduction of a lesser line called Halston III which was created for JC Penny in 1983. This would be the beginning of the end for Halston as he would lose control of his brand and eventually his name.


In spite of great achievements, the demands and disappointments of an empire turned on its emperor took its final toll. On March 26, 1990, Roy Frowick Halston, died of lung cancer complicated by HIV in San Francisco, California. He was honored by friends, family, and colleagues at a standing room only tribute at Lincoln Center sponsored by Liza Minelli and hosted by his close friend, Elsa Peretti. 


By the 1990s, a number of designers released lines under the HALSTON name including Randolph Duke and Bradley Bayou. HALSTON is now owned by Harvey Weinstein and receives creative guidance from Tamara Mellon of Jimmy Choo fame.  The label and its namesakes stylings are currently experiencing a resurrection in the form of a diffusion line called HALSTON HERITAGE.  Headed by Creative Director, Sarah Jessica Parker, of Sex and the City, the newly minted line promises to be a designers homage to the glamour of the 1970s and the legendary Halston. 



If you would like to know more about this icon, check out the website for the Tribeca Film Festival Award Winning documentary titled, ULTRASUEDE: IN SEARCH OF HALSTON http://www.halstonmovie.com/. Director Whitney Smith features some wonderful footage of his life and times as well as intimate interviews with friends and family who knew Halston the designer and the man. Another personal favorite of mine is the self-titled picture book by Phaidon. It is chock full of gorgeous Halston designs and stills of his glamourous life. 


xoxo, besos!
Monique, Twirl Vintage Co. 
SHOP www.twirlvintageco.etsy.com

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July 7 - 11, 2011. 
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