The Freeing Fashion Behind the Halston Saga

If you want to buy a bottle of Halston perfume, go to your local CVS and check one of those locked plexiglass fragrance cabinets that house ancient boxes of Liz Claiborne and Jovan Musk.

“Halston,” directed by Daniel Minahan, starring Ewan McGregor in the titular role, and with Ryan Murphy as an executive producer, feels as slick and indulgent as Halston’s sprawling Olympic Tower office—a cocaine-fuelled space that featured mirrored walls and tables, a sea of plush cherry-red carpeting, and a reputed forty thousand dollars per year in decorative orchids—but it does not feel half as uncanny or daring as the actual world Halston created.

The jockstrap belongs to Halston’s lover, Victor Hugo, a precocious Venezuelan party hopper whom many blame for Halston’s descent into drug-bingeing during his later years.

He channelled this momentum into launching his own clothing brand, in 1969, called Halston Limited, by convincing one of his regular clients, a Texas oil baroness named Estelle Marsh Watlington, to back him financially, with the promise that she would be funding the first truly American couture atelier .

In a later scene, showing off a new run of model 704s to the socialite Babe Paley, he claims to have invented Ultrasuede, a synthetic version of the real material, though some reports suggest that he gently borrowed the idea after seeing the designer Issey Miyake wearing it in Japan.

Peretti, one of the great jewelry innovators of her era , has a grand meltdown in the Hamptons after secretly pining for Halston.

The show’s high-strung theatrics are most entertaining in the final two episodes, in which McGregor chews through Halston’s epic descent, clearly delighting in scenes in which he gets to scream at assistants to bring him more cocaine.

In 2010, the filmmaker Whitney Sudler-Smith released an indie documentary called “Ultrasuede,” in which he wanders around asking nosy questions of Halston’s contemporaries.

The New Yorker may earn a portion of sales from products that are purchased through our site as part of our Affiliate Partnerships with retailers.

…Read the full story