Last Year at Marienbad (1961), directed by Alain Resnais, from top: Delphine Seyrig and Giorgio Albertazzi; grounds at Marienbad; Seyrig and Albertazzi; SachaPitoëff and Seyrig; Albertazzi and Seyrig; Seyrig; Albertazzi (left) and Pitoëff; Seyrig. Images courtesy Rialto Pictures.
Nearly thirty years after his death, Halston—the master of American minimalism and fashion’s greatest cautionary tale—has finally received a documentary worthy of his contributions. Unlike the designs of its subject, the film is somewhat padded with yards of unnecessary material. But this should not deter its intended audience from enjoying the ensemble.
Directed by Frédéric Tcheng—the filmmaker behind documentaries about Raf Simons (Diorand I) and Diana Vreeland (The Eye Has to Travel)—HALSTON hits an early peak when, one after another, his core house models—dismissively labeled “Halstonettes” by Loulou de la Falaise—testify to the talent of the man who could throw a bolt of fabric onto the showroom floor and, within minutes, create the basis of a couture gown:
“[Wearing a Halston dress imparted] elegance and ease. A sense of owning power without being masculine. And honoring the body you have.” — Alva Chinn
“You were free inside his clothes.” — Karen Bjornson
“He took away the cage. You didn’t really need the structure as much as you needed the woman. He really based most of his collections on us girls.” — Pat Cleveland
So where did it all go wrong? Cocaine and Studio 54 may have started the slide—and in the film, jewelry designer and Halston confidante Else Peretti gives a hilarious digression on mind-altering substances and their use:
“We worked all night… we didn’t get high… yes, we smoked, but no hard drugs… well, maybe a little coke…”
Because when you’re working all night…
But the man who introduced Halston to Studio 54, illustrator Joe Eula, traces the designer’s fall to the delusions of grandeur that set in after the move to the Olympic Tower studio, with its lofty, across-the-street view of St. Patrick’s spires.
The irascible, amphetamine-dependent fashion genius Charles James, who briefly worked with Halston Limited, was—typically—incendiary:
“Halston is a middle-of-the-road man who’d be better as a buyer in a store, or a stylist. He knows how to select good things to copy. But his passion is to put his name on it, for which action the word ‘plagiarism’ is correct.”
In the film, Fred Rottman, a workroom supervisor at Halston, is quick to deflect:
“Halston didn’t copy. He took concepts of Charles James’ and relaxed them.”
Halston’s era—the 1970s and early ’80s—was the time of out-of-control franchising. A designer sold his name to and sometimes designed for an array of manufacturers, slapping the cachet of his or her moniker on, yes, perfume and handbags, but also bedsheets, luggage, rugs, car interiors, and—in Halston’s case—uniforms for Braniff Airlines and the Girl Scouts of America.
This obsession to design everything for everyone, trading “class” for “mass,” led to the sale of his company to a conglomerate—a subject the film spends far too much time on. Suffice to say, Halston lost his judgment: How could he imagine that Bergdorf Goodman would want to carry a brand that was also hanging on the racks at J.C. Penney?
The film includes interviews with the designer’s friends Liza Minnelli, Bob Colacello, MarisaBerenson, Iman, Joel Schumacher, Naeem Khan, and his niece Lesley Frowick.
“The EU has made our lives much better in many ways—and even though there is undoubtedly room for improvement, using our democratic rights is the way to shape it for the better…
“What we are experiencing is a reactionary rebellion against a hundred years of social progress… After three and a half years of part-time dedication to activism, I’ve concluded that above all democracy comes down to electoral participation. What’s really necessary is mediating through the basic principle of one person, one voice.” — Wolfgang Tillmans
Vote Together—a Between Bridges initiative advocating an affirmation of the European Union in this week’s elections—has released a series of images by (and featuring) a large cohort of Tillmans’ friends and associates in the art, music, and fashion worlds.
Ingrid Luche‘s exhibition THEY KILL YOU WITH COTTON—found objects and images gathered by the artist and appropriated into dress sculptures—presents a series of “poses and prefabricated discourses (and their expression in reality) that model individual behavior and sculpt groups.”*
Who better than Vince Aletti to organize and aggregate a virtual tour of his massive and coveted collection of periodicals into the pages of a deluxe art book?
Something like this awaits the readers of ISSUES, a new publication from Phaidon.
The book includes work by Diane Arbus, Corinne Day, Richard Avedon, Cecil Beaton, EdwardSteichen, Toni Frissell, Irving Penn, Horst, CollierSchorr, Inez Van Lamsweerde, Vinoodh Matadin, BillCunningham, and Cindy Sherman.
From top: Horst P. Horst, Vogue, June 1, 1940, cover model Lisa Fonssagrives; Melvin Sokolsky, Harper’sBazaar, March 1963, model Simone D’Aillencourt; VinceAletti‘s apartment, photographed by Jason Schmidt, courtesy of the photographer and Phaidon; Corinne Day, The Face, July 1990, model Kate Moss.