The room was full of mannequins adorned with nearly 50-year-old draping jersey, soft cashmere, and intricate beading, all in mint condition. Sketches decorated the walls with a small signature in each corner that read, Halston.
The Nassau County Museum of Art is hosting “Halston Style” from March 25 to July 9. The exhibit is dedicated to Roy Halston Frowick, the iconic American fashion designer from the 1970s.
His use of ultrasuede, a synthetic micro fiber created in Japan, thick cashmere, and simply styled clothes defined his career. “Everybody who was anybody wanted his clothes. He was a gigantic figure. The first real american couturier,” Anne Goursaud, writer of the documentary Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston, said.
The exhibit details the life and work of Halston including over 60 Halston styles from his early work within the Hat Salon at Bergdorf Goodman to his final lines with J.C. Penney. In his prime Halston designed for two First Ladies, Jacqueline Kennedy and Betty Ford, and stars like Liza Minnelli and Elizabeth Taylor.
The museum has eight rooms that display different work from periods of Halston’s life from his first collections to his last.
“I think what’s so great about this is that, yes, it’s an art museum and 95% of the time we have art, but there’s other art besides two dimensional paintings,” Makowsky said. “Fashion today is considered an art form and Halston personifies that.”
The exhibit gives attendees a glimpse back towards the culture of Halston’s lifetime. “It brought back a lot of memories, I remember a lot of this stuff from the 70s, 80s, [and] 90s,” Joyce Behr, a museum attendee, said. “I think it shows a more optimistic hopeful time in American history.”
In 1983, Halston’s career plummeted after he licensed his brand to J.C. Penny and high-end retailers no longer wanted any association with his name. He died of complications from AIDS seven years later.
Despite this, his work is still respected today. His name is now licensed to Lord & Taylor, who sponsored the event.
Halston’s minimalist styles made its mark in the 70s but continues to influence modern fashion today.
“You can take something off one of these mannequins at the museum and put it on and still be fashionable,” Felice Makowsky, the tour guide, said.
The exhibit was curated by Lesley Frowick, Halston’s niece who inherited an abundance of his works.
“I am finally able to realize my dream of sharing Halston’s legacy with the word,” Frowick said. “He trusted me as a confident and I hope I am conveying his legacy in a manner that he would be proud of.”
On April 30, attendees will be able to meet Lesley Frowick who is also the author of Halston: Inventing American Style, for a talk and book signing.