Roy Halston — THE PRICE YOU PAY IS SUCCESS
Roy Halston Frowick, the man who came from nowhere, the perfect embodiment of the American dream in the world of fashion, was born in 1932 in a small town in Iowa.
After designing (not without success) a line of hats; and after a brief stint as a designer for Lilly Daché, he was advised and favored by the British fashion god Charles James and arrived in New York in the 1950s.
In a short time he became the creator of the new way of dressing for the emancipated woman at the end of the Sixties, the king of jersey and chiffon, the maniacal workhaolic who left no detail to chance, the perfectionist, the viveur who animated with his parties the New York nightlife and did not miss an evening at Studio 54. But also the businessman with his feet on the ground, who personally interviewed his employees when his company had become the most important fashion house made in the USA.
An infinite series of qualities and vices that have often led insiders to compare him to Yves Saint Laurent from overseas, without ever publicizing him too much in Europe. The fact that Mr. Halston did not leave the house without having with him an entourage of beautiful women, the so-called "Halstonettes" with their respective and multiple companions, or was a frequent visitor to high and less high-end nightlife, is something that marginally interested the tabloids. What mattered, if anything, was what people in that circle wore. The silhouettes slipped into the fabrics, now aerial, now so fluid as to seem liquid, of his creations paved the way from the red carpet to the dance floor.
As he himself declared in an interview with Vogue, what was most important to him, in the creation of the garments, was functionality. He hated anything that wasn't functional, like unnecessary bows or stitching; his collections from the beginning were distinguished by functional minimalism. They were elegant and sexy but with simple and clean lines.
His most celebrated pieces are the lightened and strongly sexualized version of the suit and the caftan (worn with absolutely nothing underneath) to be twirled on the notes of disco music. The merit of having dressed divas such as Liza Minnelli, Cher, Gloria Swanson, Elizabeth Taylor and Bianca Jagger, to name but a few, guaranteed his role as the must have designer of Hollywood and the music industry for years, and at the same time, to have thought about the new role of women in society after the economic boom brought him closer to the mass market (and this was indeed a scandal!)
Then came a more “brusque” version of the suit, perfect for the office, and knitwear for the day, also revisited in modeling, a little less homemade and a little more industrialized. These were also very popular with the textile industry, who saw orders double and multiply models that finally became neater: the creation of the cashmere twin set as we conceive it today is 99% attributable to Halston.
The total look in “Ultra Suede” suede for the evening was relaunched by him in 1972, a particular fabric that is easily washable even in the washing machine, comfortable and perfectly adaptable to the silhouette. His HALTER DRESS, created two years later, entered fashion dictionaries: when we talk about the American neckline, we are talking about Halston, who invented the style. His woman was a mermaid from the late seventies glam disco. Her dresses, perfect for a pool party, were the perfect embodiment of the American myth. Warm colors such as bronze, gold, silver, fuchsia, electric blue and fabrics such as cashmere, jersey and silk.
Halston is also responsible for the newfound interest in perfumery: his homonymous fragrance, presented in 1975, was among the best-selling in the world. In those years, starting with beauty, the possibility of opening up to the male segment also appeared. His man was ultra-classic, he does not add or detract from the choice of a wardrobe which, on the contrary, was becoming more and more varied and his style didn’t appeal to the public. The adventure ended almost before it had begun. Among his clients, however, there is no shortage of friends Andy Warhol and Truman Capote.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t only his attempt made in menswear that went wrong. There was also recklessness and drug abuse, which lead him to make a series of wrong choices, even at a managerial level. His relationship that began and remained intermittent and tormented with the Venezuelan artist Victor Hugo. His financiers very soon began to ask for the sale of the brand, to save it from bankruptcy and managed to fire Halston himself, preventing him from using his name.
The enormous success he enjoyed for years crumbled to pieces rapidly. An era ended, and the Halston brand no longer attracted fans and customers, it depreciated quickly. The designer thus decided to retire to private life, but in 1988 discovered he was HIV positive. He died of complications related to the virus in 1990.
However, even today the Halston name continues to be synonymous with style and stands out as one of the best-selling brands in the United States.
Elizabeth Taylor in Halston celebrates her 46 birthday at Studio 54 with the designer. New York 1978.
Elsa Peretti, Halston and friend.
Halston and Anjelica Huston fitting
Halston and Margaux Hemingway (in Halston) in New York 1975.
Halston with Dolly Parton and Andy Warhol
Halston with his models at his fashion show
Halston with his models
Halston with Bianca and Mick Jagger at Studio 54
Lauren Hutton in Halston by Francesco Scavullo
Lauren Hutton in Halston dress at the Oscars 1975
Liza Minelli and Halston