Pink disco balls sparkled from the ceiling.
On the crowded dance floor, a gorgeous blonde supermodel gyrated against a rock star. In a dark corner, sitting on a velvet couch, a famous pop artist discussed politics with a flamboyantly gay journalist. A sultry brunette movie star sat next to them, sipping a neon orange cocktail and staring into space, stoned out of her mind.
This was the glitzy, drug-induced, money-soaked, rock-and-roll masturbation fantasy of the 1970s Studio 54 scene in New York City.
This was the world of Halston.
I recently watched a very interesting documentary called Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston.
It chronicles the career of the world's first superstar designer, focusing on the height of his fame during the 1970s.
Halston was born in Iowa and started his career in Chicago, designing hats. His world changed forever when Hollywood and Camelot took an interest in his work. His pillbox hats were made legendary by the brand new First Lady Jackie Kennedy and his haute couture hats were worn by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's.
His career escalated into a billion-dollar empire. By the 1970s, there wasn't a supermodel, movie star, or princess who wasn't draped in his long, flowing dresses.
Halston was jaw-droppingly wealthy, blindingly handsome, and fabulously eccentric. In his giant modern New York City apartment, he threw elaborate dinner parties attended by his closest friends, such as Andy Warhol, Bianca and Mick Jagger, Elizabeth Taylor, and Michael Jackson. Most of the time, things got inappropriately out of control, with clothes flying off and people waking up the next morning in questionable locations.
His best friend was the dazzling superstar Liza Minnelli.
Together, his jet-setting group of glamorous, beautiful friends stormed the New York City night club scene. Studio 54 became their home away from home. While hundreds of attractive, shivering people stood in line for hours outside in the freezing winter nights, desperate to be chosen for admittance, Halston and his friends laughed and danced and basked in their fabulousness inside the protected paradise.
They were the most famous people in the world. And they knew it.
I don't want to give away too much, because I think it is really important, especially if you are a fashion blogger, to view this documentary.
Let's just say Halston's contributions to the fashion world were astounding.
You can see the influence of his work in fashion today. His style has never left us.
Halston ran his empire like a homosexual Hugh Hefner. He never went anywhere without his entourage of stunningly gorgeous models. They were like his family. He not only chose all of their outfits, but made them change five times a day, usually in matching or complimentary dresses. With his movie-star good looks and his bevy of long-legged beauties trailing behind him like puppies, Halston always made an unforgettable entrance.
Of course, Halston had no romantic interest in his sexy models. They were merely his background dolls.
He loved men. But not just any men. He craved intellectual, wild, and exotic men. Bad boys.
He was so, so gay.
Unfortunately, a risky business move (ironically, something that would have probably saved his career today) finished him professionally during the 1980s.
Depressed and sick, he uncharacteristically withdrew from his social circle later that same decade. His desire to be fabulous simply vanished.
He died in 1990.
What do you think of Halston?