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    ‘Halston’: The True Story Behind The Meteoric Rise And Tragic Fall Of Iconic Fashion Designer

    Who hasn’t been dazzle-struck by the world of fashion? It’s a world where names sparkle like disco balls and legends are stitched into every seam. It’s the year 2024 now and there’s no lack of big crafty names in the industry but there once was a time when designers didn’t walk the carpet behind their bedazzled mannequin. That started after a Midwesterner hatmaker decided to drape the carpet in his style. I am talking about Roy Halston Frowick. A boy straight out of Des Moines, Iowa, making waves in the Big Apple with hats worthy of making even Audrey Hepburn swoon.

    Roy was a free soul, he had that one-of-a-kind character, not for everyone’s party. Halston was the name that went from everyone’s lips to every other rack and somewhere in between, the big artisan lost the allure of his art to table-talk rules. Here’s the tale of another star who fell from grace and landed right in the departmental store racks. 

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    The Rise Of A Fashion Icon

    Designer Roy Halston Frowick
    Designer Roy Halston Frowick

    Every star needs a break to rise above and Halston got his on J.F. Kennedy’s inauguration day. Who better to make your design sensational than the First Lady herself? Jackie Kennedy, America’s queen of style, sported one of Halston’s pillbox hats at her husband’s big day in D.C. That was all it took to make Halston the first-ever star designer. Although the first woman to wear a Halston hate was his mother.

    With the hat magic still in the air, Hal took the rest of the decade to try his luck with ready-to-wear minimalist designs, luxurious fabrics, and a whole lotta chic. The swinging ’60s took him to venture into dress design, and boy, did he shake things up. His secret sauce? A mix of talent and pure serendipity—kinda like catching lightning in a couture bottle. Celebrities, socialites, and regular folks like you and me couldn’t get enough. 

    In the era of heavy silk, his flowy no-stitch dresses brought comfort and class down to the equilibrium point. Ultrasuede shirtwaist dresses? Check. Shimmering sequined gowns fit for Studio 54 royalty? Double check. What made Halston a genius? He had his finger on the pulse of the times. His clothes weren’t just fabric, they were reflections of ’70s social vibes. 

    The Halston Lifestyle 

    Designer Roy Halston Frowick
    Designer Roy Halston Frowick

    Halston in the ’70s—a maestro of decadence and artistic flair, painting the town (and the runway) red with his own brand of fabulousness. Let me tell you how he lived it up during that exhilarating era. First up we have the infamous Studio 54. The hottest spot in NYC, surrounded by a posse of celebrities and models known as the ‘Halstonettes,’ a designer’s true dream. But his presence at the disco club wasn’t just about fashion, it was a statement—a celebration of being unapologetically himself in a time of societal change. 

    New York City in the 70s was quite a place to be. The love was flowing free down the streets and the bars. Being gay wasn’t a correct cause of getting kicked out and even though Hal never officially came out, he created safe heavens for those who did, under the sequin disco lights. Plus as Hal Rubenstein said, being gay at that time was cool

    Even though Roy had all the spotlight to shine the brightest in a room full of that time’s designers, he liked his light at a certain angle. Not on the arm of his clients or behind a line. While others cosied up to high society, Halston forged his own path, creating a kingdom where his name reigned supreme and his designs did the talking. They still do, well I am still talking and you’re still reading right? In the midst of all the glitz and glamour, Halston’s lifestyle was a balancing act—lavish yet introspective, celebrated yet detached. He wasn’t just living in the ’70s, he was defining it.

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    Halston’s Fall From Grace

    Designer Roy Halston Frowick
    Designer Roy Halston Frowick

    The visionary who aimed to conquer the fashion world one sequin at a time pulled at the wrong thread by mistake. And one wrong thread in a sequin piece can make them all fall to the floor. As Halson’s star ascended, he sought to expand his empire with brand diffusion, a fancy term for offering something for everyone under the Halston name.

    There was Halston’s high-end line for the elite, catered to those who lunch in couture. Halston Originals? That’s for folks across the country craving a taste of Halston’s magic. And let’s not forget Halston International, where mix-and-match knits became the stuff of suburban dreams. But even geniuses have their missteps. Halston’s dalliance with J.C. Penney in 1883, trying to democratize fashion like a chic Robin Hood, backfired. Suddenly, the high-end folks turned up their noses, and Halston’s name lost some of its sparkle (all of it). Put in some personal struggles and corporate takeovers to the mix, and you’ve got a tragic decline fit ready. Yet, despite it all, Halston’s legacy endures like a timeless silk gown. 

    It’s a cautionary tale of fame’s tightrope walk and the treacherous waters of the fashion industry. But as they say, one’s loss is a million’s lesson and the high-end brands of now who’re making the money of their life off of paycheck employees learned from Halson’s devastating fall. 

    The legendary hatmaker who spun the world world of the 60s-70s in his designs disappeared from the public eye in 1988. The next we heard of him was the news of his untimely demise due to AIDS.

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    Akshita Singh
    Akshita Singh
    Akshita Singh is a Senior Content Writer at First Curiosity. She has been churning out content for 2 years. She's an avid reader and writer, fascinated by the works of Sylvia Plath, Franz Kafka, and Charles Bukowski. Akshita is also a poet herself, having written two poetry books titled ‘Made By Misery’ and ‘Deathbed’. Apart from goth literature, another thing that she enjoys is the real and fictional stories of Hollywood. She loves cinema and admires all works of art, be they delivered by actors or directors. So, keeping up with celebrity life comes as basic nature to her, something she loves knowing and informing others.

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