Photos by Erin Leydon.
I don't think you can over-estimate the impact and stardom of Halston in his heyday. Or over-estimate the enduring love, to the point of obsession, for his work that fans like me have. No matter how many reincarnations of the brand they attempt to do, unlike may other labels who have manage to catapult themselves into the modern world successfully, Halston remains forever entrenched in the 1970s. Rightly so in my opinion and I fervently hope that never changes. There are some labels whose progressions I totally applaud as they reinvent themselves over and over in order to stay in business year after year. Other labels have spectacular rebirths that resurrect a long forgotten brand out of the ashes and catapult their name once again into the spotlight for a new generation. Again I applaud and look forward to see what they will do. But there are some names, like Halston, that are special and their founders are at such a level of genius, that the attempts to resurrect their aesthetic never really works. And shouldn't.
Halston was a master at mixing couture level construction with the sensibility of the modern woman and her life. In his own way he revolutionized the fashion of his day with his clean lines, proportion and the fluid sensuality that runs through his clothes. One of his signatures was absolute minimal seaming and he was a master of the bias cut. He not only designed for the jet set and glamorous, he lived that life right along with his clients. I would not doubt that many of his collections and most memorable pieces were a direct result from what he saw and heard his clients asking for as they danced the nights away at Studio 54. He put his work and ambition before all else and was a demanding perfectionist with both himself and his staff. Maybe that is why I love him so as I can be the exact same way with what I do. I totally get that way of thinking and know that it is born out of an absolute love for what you do and the wish to put out only the best of yourself out into the world.
I have a deep and profound love for his work and every dress of his that I find for the shop is sent to its new owner with great love, but also with some regret, as I dearly want to hoard and keep each and every piece. If I had to make a confession today it is that sometimes a Halston piece will come in, slated for sale in the shop, and it will sit on the rack for weeks as I work up to being able to release it. If you love Halston and his work too I know you just nodded your head and felt a little sympathy for me because you totally get it. Sometimes I want to throw my entire vintage business to the wind and just hoard all the treasures I have found and keep them all for myself. But I don't. You all need to be extra thankful that not everything suits me and that, like everyone else out there, I have bills to pay and am not independently wealthy.
One of Halston's great talents was to make every woman feel that he had designed the outfit she chose specifically for her and no other. Even though I never met him I kind of feel that way about this jumpsuit - that he made it just for me. I know that makes no sense at all but it's true none the less. This is the kind of piece that you just step into and you are done. I chose to slick back my hair in a nod to the minimal feel of the jumpsuit. The toweling fabric is soft so you feel like you are wearing your pajamas out in public. It's easy. It's simple. It's cut to flatter and the fabric feels amazing on your bare skin. All things that Halston excelled at making his clothes feel like.
It is said that before he even put scissors to fabric he had an image of what he wanted the final result to be. He cut like a tailor and eliminated all the fussy elements of the day that other designers were doing. Streamlining and draping fabric until he created his own aesthetic and sensuality that ultimately came to define the era. He is a lesson that following your own path can lead to greatness. He set his own pace and never bent to trends or critics. He designed with an eye to the future and a determination to have his work remain timeless. He was a genius at detail and cut, construction and finishing. The more successful he became, the simpler his clothing became. Or at least it looked that way, but really it was an ongoing refinement of line and quality. His so called simple garments were complex creations and often had no buttons, zippers, darts, seams or trimmings, and yet they had tremendously beautiful shape and sensuality. He was hands down one of the great designers of the 20th Century and if you do not already love his work, I know that once exposed to him you will.
Halston once said: "What am I doing? I'm giving woman what they want. Women want to be comfortable and they want to look sexy. Its as simple as that."