When one recalls the classic fashion pillbox hats of former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, of course the name Halston comes to mind immediately. It was that iconic hat that put Halston on the map, but it was his fragrance, bias cut dresses, legendary nights at Studio 54, relationship with Bergdorf Goodman, JC Penney and The Halstonettes that this former milliner from the midwest would be remembered for.
Pictures meant everything to Halston. “Life is like a picture…” he used to say. His fashion were free flowing, simple and classically gorgeous worn by some of the best and brightest celebrities of the time like Broadway legend Liza Minnelli, Academy Award winner Elizabeth Taylor, Bianca Jagger to name a few and assisting with a little known African American model – Pat Cleveland becoming a household name. Like most who are highly celebrated in a public forum, it’s only a matter of time before their empire and fame come crashing down around them. Halston is no different. When he went from class to mass in an effort to dress every human being brokering a deal with JC Penney, it proved to be the beginning of the end resulting in him not being able to retain ownership of the company he founded or his own name. Directed by Frederic Tcheng, this doc calculates sucks the audience into this magical world of fashion and then lowers the boom with broken friendships, personal and business relationships with commentary from Minnelli, some of his closest business associates and Pat Cleveland (who is currently struggling with a colon cancer diagnosis). Empathy for a man who got sucked into the vortex of celebrity, believing his own hype and letting drugs overtake his common sense isn’t hard to garner for this groundbreaking designer who would ultimately spend his remaining days with family before succumbing to HIV/AIDS.
On the red carpet at the Tony Awards, Erich Bergen (from the Broadway musical Waitress) revealed plans that he’ll be leading a new musical about the fashion designer based on the 2014 book, Halston: Inventing American Fashion, written by the late icon’s niece, Lesley Frowick.
Original music by Stanley Clarke, produced by CNN Films and The Orchard, Halston was released nationwide on May 25th. If you are obsessed with vintage fashion, design and an insatiable curiosity for legends then this doc is will be right up your alley.