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Saturday, April 23, 2011
Roy Halston Frowick, also known as Halston was an iconic clothing designer of the 1970s.
He was born in Des Moines, Iowa. He began his career as a milliner (designing the pillbox hat Jacqueline Kennedy wore to her husband's 1961 Presidential inauguration) and when he moved to designing women's wear, Newsweek dubbed him 'the premier fashion designer of all America'. His designs were worn by Bianca Jagger, Liza Minnelli, Anjelica Huston, Lauren Bacall and Elizabeth Taylor, setting a style that would be closely associated with the international jet set of the era.
As 'the first [American] designer to realise the potential of licensing himself,' his influence went beyond style to reshape the business of fashion. Through his licensing agreement with US retailer JC Penney, his designs were accessible to women at a variety of income levels. Although this practice is common today, it was a controversial move at the time and cost him more couture customers.
Despite his achievements, his increasing drug use - he enthusiastically embraced the jetset lifestyle of his celebrity friends and clients - and failure to meet deadlines (he was reluctant to hire junior designers to design licensed products) undermined his success. In October of 1984 he was fired from his own company and lost the right to design and sell clothes under his own name.
Halston was diagnosed with AIDS in 1988. He died of AIDS-related lung cancer in San Francisco, California on March 26, 1990.
According to Salon.com, Halston was 'the first international fashion superstar - and possibly the best designer America has ever had.'
In the Sister Sledge disco hit He's The Greatest Dancer Halston is memorably mentioned in a description of a well-dressed man: 'Halston, Gucci, Fiorucci - he looks like a still, the man is dressed to kill'.
Halton is often mentioned in songs, films and TV shows - usually as a yardstick for a certain kind of style.
The Halston label was resurrected in 2008 with London-based designer Marios Schwab.