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10 things Halston tells us about the fashion industry


The rise and fall of Roy Halston Frowick (Ewan McGregor), at one time one of the most prominent names in high-end fashion in the ’70s and’ 80s, is a warning about the sacrifice of creativity for profit. In Ryan Murphy’s Kaleidoscopic Netflix Miniseries Halston, the show gives an in-depth look at the fashion industry, revealing how mercurial it can be for someone struggling with their own identity.

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From creating Halston’s first clothing line for Bergdorf Goodman to selling it to JC Penney, fans learn what happens when a passionate and creative mind tries to have both creative control and financial freedom, among other fascinating lessons about the world of fashion.

ten A designer is only as good as his ability to sell himself

Halston (Ewan McGregor) strolling with Eleanor Lambert (Kelly Bishop)

When a young Halston tries to influence Bergdorf Goodman with his design ideas after the success of Jacqueline Kennedy’s pillbox hat, it becomes clear that a designer is only as good as his ability to sell himself. Being able to market their ideas and, more importantly, convince potential investors of the income they can generate, is essential to any brand building.

Later in the series, Halston charms potential investors for his new workspace and convinces them that a dingy warehouse can be turned into a fancy fashion studio. Halston’s ability to get people to believe in him and his brand was key to his early success.

9 Behind every great designer hides a great team

David Pittu walking in entourage with Ewan McGregor in Halston.

Although he came to believe that it was his talents alone that defined his fashion brand, Halston’s early career was filled with exceptional collaborators who contributed to the unique aesthetic that was “Halston”. Joe Eula, a renowned illustrator of the 60s and 70s, designer / model Elsa Peretti and aspiring designer (later director) Joel Schumacher were some of his early teams.

Unfortunately, Halston’s ego grew with his brand and he began to form creative differences with his closest associates. At the end of his life, he made amends by recognizing that one person cannot embody everything in a brand. Halston admitted that his inability to listen to his friends contributed to the downfall of his fashion label.

8 Inspiration comes from everywhere

Halston (Ewan McGregor) outfitting Liza Minnelli (Krysta Rodriguez) in Halston on Netflix

Like many fashion designers, Halston drew inspiration from the world around him. When he was little he found it making hats for his mother from pheasant feathers he collected from his garden. As an adult, something as simple as a piece of cloth blown around a refurbished statue on a walk in New York City could spark her creativity.

As he says in the series, “You can’t put a budget on inspiration!”, Indicating that finding the face of a garment is priceless when it can make the difference between becoming the next one. great success in the fashion world or a complete failure.

7 It’s a ruthless business (where very sensitive people have to work)

Halston (Ewan McGregor) fights for rights to his name in Netflix's Halston

As Halston discovered, the fashion industry could be ruthless. After he sold his line to Norton Simon, Inc., making money and not being innovative became the most important aspect of the design. He couldn’t take so many risks and, as he saw with his perfume bottle, he had to fight and justify every creative decision.

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Even though David Mahoney, Halston’s trusted business confidant, promised the fashion designer that he would always protect him from creative interference, Mahoney broke that commitment once he used the JC Penney deal to make the brand from Halston attractive enough to sell. Halston became very familiar with the phrase “It’s just for business,” which put his personal desires first out of the equation.

6 There is a narrow window for every trend

Halston (Ewan McGregor) in limousine with Victor (Gian Franco Rodriguez) in Netflix series Halston

Anticipating fashion trends is one of the most difficult aspects of the industry; what the public responds to one time will not be what they like the next. It’s best when a designer like Halston, who has always been on top of the cultural trend, can decide for them.

Early in his career, Halston thought he wanted to be the next Balenciaga, but he knew he would eventually have to make his own brand. When Calvin Klein dominated the denim market, the astute David Mahoney told Halston he had to make the decision to compete with Calvin’s designs. Sadly, Halston waited too long and the market was quickly saturated with designer jeans.

5 Being the first and being the best are different things

Halston (Ewan McGregor) outfitting Elsa Peretti (Rebecca Dayan) in Netflix's Halston

When Halston launched Halston Limited in 1969, its ready-to-wear line included soft fabrics that were the confluence of utility and luxury. This is where her iconic Ultrasuede clothing shone. Her ability to be the first with fresh and innovative ideas in fashion won her famous clients like Greta Garbo and laid the foundation for a multi-billion dollar empire.

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In the 1970s, when denim exploded in popularity, Calvin Klein’s blue jeans threatened to usurp the sophisticated Halston modality. It was then that Halston learned that you could either be the first and original, as he was with Ultrasuede, or be the best and the superior, as he intended to be. with blue jeans. But he had to do Something and waiting too long to make up his mind has cost him mastery of the denim market.

4 Licenses are lucrative (until they saturate the market)

Halston (Ewan Mcgregor) making a license announcement

Thanks to a lucrative deal with popular beauty brand Max Factor in 1975, Halston began releasing his eponymous perfume, and two years later it was making tens of millions in profits. After that, Halston’s name was on everything from luggage to lingerie. Despite its visibility, the brand did not increase its profits, which prompted Halston to make a desperate move.

In the early 1980s, he signed a licensing deal with JC Penney for $ 1 billion, a move that offered incredible expansion for the brand with affordable clothing and accessories. Unfortunately, this historic deal tarnished its reputation as a high-end designer, and expansion into mid-price chain stores made it appear cheap to its peers.

3 Fashion is a business, not an art

Joel Schumacher leaning against a wall, smoking

From the start of Halston Limited in 1969 until 1973, the Halston line grossed $ 30 million, enough for it to become the subject of interest to Norton Simon, Inc., to whom he sold it for $ 16 million but remained as a lead designer. . At this point, Halston had complete creative control but almost unlimited financial support.

Halston’s design method was often at odds with the board of directors of Norton Simon, Inc. Halston’s insistence on $ 30,000 for orchids to decorate his office or fly in a Concord jet to attend parties in Europe were expenses that society considered unnecessary. His eccentricities were only allowed as long as he produced a product according to their schedule.

2 People who make fashion decisions may not know anything about it

Halston (Ewan McGregor) taking a call in his office on Netflix's Halston

Whenever he needed financial support, Halston was at the mercy of investors who knew nothing about fashion as an art form. In his dealings with Norton Simon, Inc., this lack of knowledge became especially evident when his department was overseen by men who knew how to calculate profits but knew nothing about Halston clothing.

In order to have unlimited financial support, Halston had to compromise, and it gnawed at the sensitive part of him who believed in the more fluid concept of creativity. The only freedom was to be able to financially support his own efforts, but Halston’s excessive lifestyle with people like Victor Hugo made it impossible as he did not put his own money back into his business.

1 Never sell your name (it’s the only one you got)

Halston (Ewan McGregor) and Lisa Minnelli (Krysta Rodriguez) at Studio 54 in Netflix series Halston

Halston made millions of dollars licensing his name, something unheard of in the elitist fashion world where his brand was synonymous with art and good taste. At the time of his death, his worst fears came true: other designers he did not supervise put his name on products he did not create.

Halston’s pursuit of acceptance and love has taken him to heights of glamor and profit, but he has sacrificed his identity more with every business transaction. He realized that in life everyone had only their name to leave their mark in the world, and although he had made millions selling it, he would have paid “double to get it back. “.

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