Halston (2019)

6.6
  • Not Rated
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release year: 2019 (2019-05-24)
  • Running time: 120 min
  • Original Title: Halston
  • Voted: 261
Halston is a movie starring Liza Minnelli, Marisa Berenson, and Joel Schumacher. Prodigiously talented, Halston reigned over fashion in the 1970s and became a household name. But everything changed in the Wall Street era. With his...
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  • Had it all, lost it all 6/6/2019 12:00:00 AM by ferguson-6 6

    Greetings again from the darkness. My fashion of choice is jeans and an untucked shirt, but even a schlub like me recognizes the creative force that was Roy Halston Frowick. His impact as groundbreaking fashion designer Halston is beyond question. Jackie O's pillbox hat? Halston. The "hot pants" revolution in the 60's? Halston. His innovations were first noted at Bergdorf Goodman, the iconic luxury department store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Director Frederic Tcheng clearly understands the fashion world and was the right choice for this project. Mr. Tcheng's previous documentaries include DIOR AND I (2014) and DIANA VREELAND: THE EYE HAS TO TRAVEL (2011). Here, he pays homage to Halston the designer, while also pulling back the curtain on Halston the man.

    Despite the fascinating subject and an expert director, an odd choice was made for this documentary to feature a narrator - a fictional character narrator, "somebody working in the archives". It seems to be a stretch in an attempt to make a more artistic film, but opening with a deep cut Elvis song, "Fame and Fortune", any attempts to add interest to Halston's story were unnecessary.

    The film tracks Halston's industry timeline and his 1968 break from Bergdorf to open his own salon. This led to his notoriety in the 70's and put American fashion on the map - thanks in large part to his splash at the Versailles Fashion Show. Interviewees range from movie director Joel Schumacher (responsible for the less than artistic BATMAN & ROBIN, 1997), who partied hard with Halston; to model and actress Marisa Berenson, who walked the runway in his clothes and became a movie star; to Elsa Peretti, who created Halston fragrances and worked with him for years. There is also Liza Minelli who has worn Halston exclusively for decades. We get a glimpse at some of the Studio 54 parties, the Andy Warhol years, and Halston's lavish lifestyle.

    Much of the later years center around the impact of business dealings. In 1973, Norton-Simon acquired Halston and his brand, which is what drove the expansion into fragrances, shoes, furniture and more. We see his historic 1980 trip to China, and learn about his record-breaking $1 billion deal with JC Penney, a transaction outsiders described as he "moved from class to mass." When Esmark (Playtex) purchased the brand and discovered that they owned the Halston brand name, Halston the man was booted from the company (1984). This allowed John David Ridge to become the designer of Halston.

    We hear that Halston was a perfectionist - a demanding boss who was sometimes cruel to his staff and others. We've heard similar tales in regards to other artists. This is a man who designed for the world's most fashion-conscious people, and for such diverse causes as The Olympics, the Girl Scouts, and Avis company uniforms. Having Esmark erase the Halston history may pale in comparison to the tragedy of having the designer die of AIDS in 1989 at age 57, but it's unfortunate to say the least. By that time, he had disappeared from public life as his purpose and name were no longer his.

  • The Fashion Shows 6/21/2019 12:00:00 AM by Intermissionman_ 7

    Enjoyed all the interviews with the original Models and celebrities especially LIZA and all the historical information about Halston himself. He was one of the most talented Fashion Designers in history but made a few bad decisions towards the end......not a bad Musical Score to accompany the Fashion Shows

  • Mismatched 9/14/2019 12:00:00 AM by jadepietro 6

    GRADE: C+

    THIS FILM IS MILDLY RECOMMENDED.

    IN BRIEF: The film may be dressed to the nines, but there's not much there.

    JIM'S REVIEW: Documentarian Frederic Tcheng's fascination with fashion icons continues in his latest film, Halston, now streaming on CNN and other sites. The subject is worthy viewing, even if the documentary doesn't always inform as well as it should.

    We learn about Roy Halston Frowick's mercurial rise and fall via film clips and interviews with friends and models, but the facts are generally glossed over in favor of glitz and glamour. Halston's personal story gets lost in the execution. One knows of his impact on the world of fashion during the 60's and 70's. With clients like Jackie Kennedy, Marisa Berenson, and Liza Minnelli, who wouldn't recognize his fame, talent, and fortune! But the details about this successful country boy turned celebrity are missing. The director seems more interested in gossip and the Studio 54 crowd than the designer.

    The film starts with Halston's beginnings as a milliner at Bergdorf Goodman in NYC before branching out on his own. We never learn about his networking, or his inspirations for his design work. We see his extravagance life style with none of the notoriety and only a mere mention of the behind-the-scenes backstabbing. We learn of his business dealings, but avoid most of the evidence of his volatile behavior and temper tantrums. His personal gay life is mainly innuendo and never examined with much detail. His financial decline, the most interesting section of the film, is sidetracked and not given the depth it needs to show Halston's tragic end.

    Perhaps the biggest misstep is the introduction of a fictitious narrator, played by Tavi Gevinson, who is presumingly researching this great man, as if he were Charles Foster Kane and the secret word is Rosebud. This film's conceit dooms the film and Mr. Tcheng upstages his subject with this silly plot device.

    Still, the interviews are always entertaining and the nostalgia factor with his trendy pop art color statements, dated pillbox hats, and sexy hot pants are a comforting throwback to retro times. It's just that Halston himself deserved a more fitting tribute. This documentary, despite its good intentions, needs some alterations.

  • VICTIM OF FASHION 5/27/2019 12:00:00 AM by js-66130 6

    In what may be the definitive look at Studio 54 crazy seventies fashion excess, "Halston" is a mixed bag of riveting stories, grainy VHS tapestry, and failed mystery caper.

    Flamboyant dress dictator Roy Halston Frowick was indeed larger than life, and his dirt poor farm boy to fashion mogul of the stars story is watermelon juicy. Juicy and messy. Everyone loves an impossible mountain climb, especially when it is followed by a precipitous fall. The Halston tale has it all, complete with a bevy of celebrity cameos, eye-popping paparazzi pics, shocking news headlines, and jittery standard definition television clips. It's a cinematic ice-cream headache: a sweet and delicious start, which leaves you a bit concussed by the end.

    If nothing else, this doc serves as a perfect history primer for the outrageous spectacle that the fashion industry would become. Plus it features the utterly charmingly cut-throat Halston in all his fabulous, pompous glory.