Halston (SAIC 1952) brought global attention to American fashion in the 1970s
Credited as being America’s first internationally renowned designer, Halston (1932–90) defined American women’s fashion of the 1970s and brought American fashion global attention. Born Roy Halston Frowick in Des Moines, Iowa, Halston began his rise to fame with his millinery designs, creating the iconic pillbox hat that Jacqueline Kennedy wore to John F. Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961. In 1952 he moved to Chicago where he worked as a fashion merchandiser at Carson Pirie Scott by day and studied at SAIC by night.
Upon moving to New York in 1957, Halston worked as a milliner for Bergdorf Goodman before launching his womenswear label in 1968. The Halston label quickly became synonymous with a minimalist approach to glamor and was adored by many glamorous women of the time, including Elizabeth Taylor, Liza Minnelli, Anjelica Huston, and Bianca Jagger.
Halston designed sportswear that was elegant and sexy, offering women comfort and freedom while retaining allure and sensuality. He popularized caftans, matte jersey halter-top dresses, and ultrasuede—his signature fabric. Surrounded not only by beautiful models known as “Halstonettes,” Halston spent time in the company of Andy Warhol and Truman Capote, and was a habitué of Studio 54.
Halston also very influential in the design of uniforms, creating looks for the Girl Scouts, Braniff airlines, and the US Olympic team in 1976. Although he made some unfortunate decisions that led to the downfall of his business, the Halston label continues on today and his place as an iconic American fashion designer will always remain.