An exclusive launch of the Marco Zanini designed Halston Fall collection is nearly selling out and causing a bit of fashion hysteria at Selfridges in London. Priced similarly to Lanvin, these dresses, separates and fur accessories are hardly a deal, but the well-heeled fashion pariahs are on the hunt for something else; a great Studio-54 inspired dress, or perhaps a piece of fashion history.
As the sixth designer to attempt a revival of the brand since Halston lost the rights to his own name in 1984, and on the heels of the success of once-defunct label Herve Leger and rumored renaissance of the House of Thierry Mugler, the newest resurrection of Halston may just be written in the stars…
THE KEYS TO BEING AN EPONYMOUS DESIGNER:
1. Celebrity Endorsement: Halston had socialite and jet-set support from the likes of Bianca Jagger and Babe Paley as well as a serious celebrity following by Liza Minelli, Ali McGraw, and Angelica Huston, the it-girls of their day known to party at Studio-54 where they were photographed and gawked upon as arbiters of cool. The Halston revival is supported financially by the Weinstein Company, Tamara Mellon of Jimmy Choo and infamous stylist Rachel Zoe, who have a collective Rolodex of celebrity friends and followers bigger than SJP’s Vivienne Westwood wedding gown, and could have the clothes on the backs of influencers like Kate Bosworth and Kiera Knightly and the modern equivalents of social royalty, Birdie Bell and Tinsley herself…before you can say Bungalow 8.
2. The Look: Zanini is staying true to the staples of Halston’s aesthetic that made him famous from Grecian draped gowns, to pantsuits, cashmere coats and knit dresses in a pallet familiar to the original designer of orange, dusty rose and grey. Halston’s aesthetic lives on elsewhere though today from the jet-set looks of Michael Kors and Halston’s own contemporary Diane Von Furstenberg to the silk jersey gowns of Yigal Azrouel. Vintage looks aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, but it’s not enough to scan the archives, the Halston of today needs to differentiate from the Halston of yesterday in order to carve out a niche not already taken.
3. The Mass Factor: Halston’s licensing deal with JC Penney may have been a misstep in his day, when appealing to the masses was a faux pas in the luxury market. In today’s climate, with Proenza Schouler becoming a household name after their Target collection and Karl Lagerfeld designing for H&M, low and high are practically synonymous, further proof that Halston was a visionary. Perhaps it can wait a few seasons, but nothing increases brand awareness like a well-executed capsule collection at a trend-conscious mass retailer, especially when appealing to a new generation. Halston for TopShop?
The success at Selfridges is promising, but if Zanini wants to be the next Halston, he’ll need something the talented and incredibly culturally significant designer couldn’t seem to achieve professionally…longevity.
* Editorial note: WWD just announced that creative director Marco Zanini is said to be out. Zanini designed the spring collection, which will be unveiled during New York Fashion Week in September. The company may already be considering potential successors, and an announcement could come before fashion week, sources say.
Halston executives were unavailable for comment and Zanini could not be reached.
Photos courtesy of the Fashion Spot forums.