Grace Bernal’s California Style: Halston

I see the name pop up and it takes me back to the 70s. I may have been on the younger side back then but that didn’t stop me from seeing the different styles and fashion trends on TV and in department stores. Today the name seems unrecognized and when I tow around a Halston handbag your average person wouldn’t recognize or begin to understand the story behind the name. Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you Roy Halston Frowick, the Iowan born in 1932 no longer with us who became famous for his design of dresses.  In 1961 it was the pillbox hat that made him famous, worn by Jaqueline Kennedy to her husband’s presidential inauguration. The flock followed with names like Dietrich, Vreeland, and Hayworth, to name a few. This allowed Halston to move forward and design dresses. His designs were modern, sexy, and elegant. He designed a very wearable shirt dress but he’s most remembered for the halter dress worn by women who loved to disco down in a crowd.  Other accessories he designed were handbags and sunglasses. Halston was influential with uniform design for airline company Braniff International, and his designs were made available to women of different income levels via the JC Penny catalog. This was a brave move on his part because he was looked down on by other designers. It may have also been the beginning of the end for Halston’s design work.  However, it paved the way for other designers who desired to get into the ready-to-wear mainstream market later on. Halston didn’t have a very good ending. His business suffered after he went mainstream. He became ill, and passed away in 1990 at the age of 58. Ultimately his minimalistic, clean cut, sexy, and elegantly designed dresses live on today as they continue to pop up at department stores like Neiman Marcus and Halston Boutiques throughout the Los Angeles area. Halston left behind a legacy of his hat making, made history at the legendary department store Bergdorf Goodman, and unforgettable clothing design which still looks stunning today. If you would like to learn more about Halston’s design history and life, there is a documentary via Sundance titled Halston  by documentarian Frédéric Tcheng. There’s also a series starring Ewan McGregor as Halston titled Simply Halston.

“You are as good as the people you dress.” –Halston

Leave a Reply