In honor of Paris Fashion Week, we’re talking about Halston. The American designer boldly showed his collection at Versailles 35 years ago to show the French what American was like. Here at wOw, it turns out that some of us knew him — he dressed Candice Bergen for Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball, made Mary Wells’s second wedding dress and danced the nights away with Liz Smith. For the full scoop and more stories, including one by wOw’s CEO Joni Evans, read on:
My Mink Bunny Mask and Halston
By Candice Bergen
I first met Roy Halston Frowick in 1966 when he was designing hats for Bergdorf. It was the time of Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball at the Plaza Hotel across the street, which was why I was at Halston’s borrowing a white mink bunny mask and white mink trimmed black velvet strapless gown that he designed. It had been rejected by another more discriminating girl about town. And so it fell to me. I returned it the next day.
Halston was terribly intimidating to me, but I got some wonderful pieces from him that I wore constantly. Elegant. Casual. Sexy. Then I went to Rio for carnaval and Liza Minnelli was there performing and she had a trunk of Halston (she wore nothing else) — with an 11×14 notebook of beautiful pen and ink sketches by Joe Eula, that was essentially an instruction book of what to wear with what. The Perretti pendants. The Perretti belts. The soft kid clutches. The strappy spindly sandals. The shawls. A notebook of outfits that were fantastic. I was in heaven. Such a thing to have!!
Liza loaned me a great looking metallic gold dress that I wore to a party that night. Very swanky. Years later, he gave me an indigo sequin kaftan when I needed something for a dinner at the White House. Also, a fantastic camouflage sequin sheath that I wore to the Film Festival in Teheran. Very glam. I was much thinner then. Much. And I don’t go to those events anymore. And neither does Halston.
How I Changed Halston’s Life
By Mary Wells
The first dress that Halston ever sold was my wedding dress. Roy Halston Frowick was an unhappy milliner at Bergdorf Goodman. He hated hats but he made wonderful hats. I never wore hats, but one day Jo Hughes, Bergdorf’s fashion stylist, brought Roy and his hats into my tiny dressing room and introduced us. He stared at me and I stared at all those hats. I put one on and looked so silly that we both had to laugh. In that tiny dressing room we became friends and he told me he hated hats and how much he wanted to become a dress designer. I told him about my wedding to Harding Lawrence, which was going to be in Paris.
Hubert Givenchy, who was an old friend, had designed a wonderful dress for the wedding gala but I needed something lovely to get married in and I needed dresses for my two very little girls. As I had been married before, I wasn’t imagining anything white or fairytale. Halston — he kept reminding me of his preferred name — stuck a green velvet hat that he had been holding under my chin, took out a big black crayon and designed my dress in seconds. An iconic Halston dress, it was impeccably simple, clean as a whistle, yet alluring. Jo Hughes brought everybody important at the store around to see the designs and Halston went on to sketch miniatures of the dress for my little girls. “You may have changed his life,” Jo said with pins in her teeth. It was dark “holiday green” velvet.
I pursuaded Harding to use him to design the replacements for Emilio Pucci’s uniforms on Braniff, and we had a spectacular gala in Acapulco with Halston and all the models of the moment.
Make No Mistake: He WAS Halston
By Joan Juliet Buck
When I was 19 — a chubby, disoriented producer’s daughter from London in culture shock at Sarah Lawrence — I managed to get a summer job at Glamour magazine writing book reviews and assisting a fashion editor named Frances Stein. It wasn’t talent that got me the job as much as the fact that I came from London. That wasn’t all: At my first meeting with Frances, she had the New York Times open to a double-page ad announcing the premiere, one year later, of “The Lion In Winter.”
“That’s my father’s film,” I said. I was in.
Frances was stylish, temperamental, and talked a lot about inspiration. Her best friend was Halston, who was just about to bail