Halston was the fashion label of 70s New York, and this is a doc about the rise and fall of its creator, who started out as a milliner at Bergdorfs in the 60s (he did the pill box hat for Jackie Kennedy) and rose to become the designer who clad Liza Minelli and Bianca Jagger when she rode in to Studio 54 on that white horse.
He was immortalised in the Sister Sledge song, He’s the Greatest Dancer and had a huge penthouse showroom atop a tower, like a Bond villain.
The doc is fun and throws light on a figure who disappeared a bit, although the film doesn’t quite maintain its momentum. It runs out of material, I guess, and the rise and fall isn’t quite the arc it really needs to be. The clothes look good and the archive is fab and some of the talking heads are great – Joel Schumacher and, particularly, Elsa Perretti.
But like the pill box, it’s a bit old hat these days, the coke, the disco, the daytime TV and New York nightlife clips, even the cursory Fire Island stuff. So what’s this film about? Is it about big business or big egos and how taking the dollar stifles, or ruins creativity? Halston took a huge contract to stock in JC Penney’s. Good for him, bad for the brand. But really, who cares? Or is it about sexuality, female and male? I’m not sure director Frederic Tcheng quite decides, so it hasn’t got the revelatory oomph and access of his Dior and I doc, about Raf Simons first days in charge of the grand old house.
I didn’t like Halston very much, the person, and the clothes aren’t particularly fabulous. I guess fashion comes and goes, that’s why it’s called fashion, and Halston had his time.