SIMPLY HALSTON by Steven Gaines


The Untold Story
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 A riveting tale of sex, drugs, and the pillbox hat as Gaines (Heroes and Villains, 1986) details the rise and fall of a talented designer turned disco denizen. Roy Halston Frowick moved to Chicago at age 20 from Des Moines and with the backing of his hairdresser-lover started a millinery business that quickly gained a local following. Offered a job in New York by the famous Lilly Dache, Halston soon was installed at Bergdorf's, selling hats and charming celebrity customers (including Jacqueline Kennedy, who wore his pillbox hat for the inauguration). As the 60's progressed, Halston moved over to designing ready-to-wear. His showroom became a gathering place for the famous, and his simple, elegant clothes became all the rage, until a 1972 Newsweek cover named him America's ``premier fashion designer.'' In 1973, he sold his business to Norton Simon Industries, which created an extremely successful fragrance. But as the 70's wore on, the licensing ventures languished as Halston allegedly began to use cocaine heavily, getting in to work at noon after nights at Studio 54. When Norton Simon was taken over, the Halston division was sold several times to corporations less tolerant of the designer's disregard for the bottom line, and finally Halston himself was banished from his own offices, with others producing under the Halston name. In March 1990, the designer died of AIDS. Jam-packed with sordid detail (prostitutes, anonymous sex in Central Park, a destructive long-term lover named Victor Hugo) and celebrities (Liza, Andy, Bianca): reading this is like mainlining 70's gossip. In all: a sad story of talent gone astray and a fascinating, disturbing portrait of the imaginative decadence of the disco era.

Pub Date: Sept. 25th, 1991
ISBN: 0-399-13612-6
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1991


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