‘Halston’ Is an Engrossing Look at a Fashion Icon Who Paid The Ultimate Price For Glory
The fashion industry in America is still in its infancy. Though labels like Tom Ford and Marc Jacobs have risen to the top in the last four decades, there was a time when the industry belonged to European designers. Then came Halston. Roy Halston Frowick was an enigmatic figure who began making a name for himself in the 1960s as Bergdorf Goodman’s top milliner. He was the man who put Jackie Kennedy in her iconic pillbox hat for JFK’s 1961 inauguration. Eventually, with a historic 1973 runway show at the Palace of Versailles, Halston would place American fashion design at the world’s feet. In his exquisitely crafted and textured documentary, Halston–French filmmaker Frédéric Tcheng unearths the past–allowing Halston, the man, the designs, and the legacy to collide on screen.
Halston’s story begins in New York City in the ’60s. Using found footage and photographs, Tcheng unveils Halston’s Mad Med-like world. A man from the middle of America, Rory Frowick literally became Halston. He made himself into a glamorous illusive figure that never spoke openly about his childhood or home life. His lust for the now, as well as his determination to forget the past and only look ahead, is what enchanted so many people. After leaving Bergdorf Goodman’s in 1968 and striking out on his own, Halston began creating an elite world around him. He surrounded himself with people like Andy Warhol, fashion models like Iman (whom he put in her first runway show), his best friend Liza Minelli, Elizabeth Taylor, and a slew of his favored models whom he called the Halstonettes.
Tcheng uses traditional talking heads in his documentary–with those closest to Halston like Lesley Frowick and Pat Cleveland providing personal anecdotes about their time with the late designer. After all, during the ’70s and ’80s Halston was America’s superstar designer–he knew instinctively that he could connect the fashion world with Hollywood. In addition to interviews, the Dior and I filmmaker uses reenactments to drape a neo-noir layer of mystery around the movie. As the film reveals, everything that Halston worked for would eventually be ripped from under him.
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