Sleek no-nonsense designs for the urban woman are what defined the work of Roy Halston Frowick and brought a new era to American fashion in the 1970's. It was in the hands of Halston that the full length gown shimmied its way out of the ballroom and into the disco age of 1970's New York. Devoted followers such as Bianca Jagger and Pat Cleveland ensured that Halston achieved a cult status that is yet to fade, evidenced by the brand’s revival in the past few years. With bias cut fabric, plunging necklines, one shoulder drapery and full flowing skirts, Halston’s designs were deceptively simple and based on his belief that a woman could wear one look for a whole day and any occasion. Approachable and wearable, his dresses required no further embellishment than a good hair-do for a woman to feel the best she’d ever looked.
Halston was dubbed by Newsweek ‘the premier fashion designer of all America’ and certainly his innovations and influence in shape and fabric such as ultrasuede, matte jersey, halter necks and the kaftan proved the disseminating power of his designs. Though now celebrated for his iconic dresses, Halston began his fashion career designing hats for the great and the good in Chicago, reaching fame with the pillbox hat worn by Jackie Kennedy at the presidential inauguration ceremony of 1961. It is possibly this early career in such a key accessory, and his knowledge gained of how best to wear it, that influenced the minimalism of his celebrated clothing line. As hats became less essential to a woman’s daily look, Halston moved away from millinery and into women’s fashion. Using simple shapes in shimmering mercurial fabrics, luxury yarns and draped cloth, his designs followed the female shape without clinging and were the sophisticated antidote to the ebullient aesthetic of the 1960s. He once said in an interview to Vogue magazine that his designs dispensed with ‘all of the extra details that didn't work—bows that didn't tie, buttons that didn't button, zippers that didn't zip, wrap dresses that didn't wrap. I've always hated things that don't work.’ This design principle demonstrates Halston’s ability to understand how women wear clothes and by stripping away these no essential parts and focusing on simple structure, Halston’s truly 1970’s designs are timeless. Their instant glamorising effect has meant that, today, these original Halston creations remain some of the most sought after pieces in vintage fashion.
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