Tuesday, September 9, 2008

All Hail Halston

Roy Halston Frowick, (April 23, 1932 - March 26, 1990) simply known as Halston, was one of the greatest American fashion designers of the 20th century.

Born in Des Moines, Iowa Roy developed an interest in sewing from his mother. As a young boy he began designing hats and reworking outfits for his mother and sister. Roy graduated high school in 1950 then attended Indiana University for one semester. Soon after the family moved to Chicago in 1952, where he worked as a window dresser while enrolled in night classes at the Chicago Art Institute.

Using his middle name as his professional moniker, Halston opened his first shop, the Boulevard Salon, on Michigan Avenue in 1957. He continued his love of designing hats under the Halston logo.

Halston's lover the celebrity hair stylist, Andre Basil, helped further his career by convincing him to move to New York City later in 1957. Basil introduced him to milliner Lilly Dache where he soon became co-designer under the Dache label. Shortly after Halston became head milliner for Bergdorf Goodman. Most famously he designed the pillbox hat Jacqueline Kennedy wore to attend her husband's Presidential inauguration. By the seventies, Halston moved into the world of fashion apparel. His simplistic designs were coveted around the world. Halston was dubbed the American Yves Saint Laurent.

Halston's best known garment was the Ultrasuede shirtwaist dress he introduced in 1972. It was one of the most popular dresses in American in the 1970's. Its' success stemmed from the color palette and the convenience of being machine washable. In 1975 Halston added menswear and perfume to his empire. The perfume was named "Halston" and came in a bean-shaped bottle designed by Elsa Peretti.

In the late seventies and early eighties, Halston was the toast of Manhatten nightlife. He dressed and was often seen on the arm of his celebrity clientele. His famous women included Liza Minnelli, Bianca Jagger, Elizabeth Taylor and Lauren Hutton. He could often be found at Studio 54 in the company of Andy Warhol or Steve Rubell. It was at this decadent time of care-free luxury and glamour that Halston's drug use began to accelerate. He personified privilege and the good life.

Despite his achievements, Halston became increasingly harder to work with. Failure to meet deadlines and refusal to allow anything to be produced that he himself did not create, infuriated his investors. He was asked to design a line for the J.C. Penney Department Stores in 1982. He agreed, but unanticipated was the downfall of the luxury brand. With his clothes available to the masses the exclusiveness disappeared along with his followers. Bergdorf's dropped his collections and his famous friends moved on to other designers. Halston's relationship with his investors had finally deteriorated when he was locked out of his offices after throwing a temper tantrum in 1984. He was fired and lost the right to design or sell clothes under his own name.

Halston was diagnosed with AIDS in 1988. He died of AIDS related lung cancer in San Francisco, CA in 1990.

Despite having many different designers and corporate owners since Roy Halston Frowick died, the brand has never been able to capture the magnitude of the original Halston. In early 2007 American filmmaker, Harvey Weinstein purchased the Halston Corporation. He has partnered with Tamara Mellon, who masterminded Jimmy Choo's international ascent. Rachael Zoe, stylist to the stars, was brought in as creative consultant. Their first line for Fall 2008 rekindles the 70's feel of Halston, himself.

"Your only as good as the people you dress." - Roy Halston Frowick

1 comment:

AsianCajuns said...

Thanks for all the gorgeous photos! Halston makes women look so commanding- I love that!