1932-04-23

HALSTON, American fashion designer (d. 1990); an iconic clothing designer of the 1970s. His long dresses or copies of his style were popular fashion wear in mid-1970s discotéques. He began his career as a milliner (designing the pillbox hat Jacqueline Kennedy famously wore to her husband’s 1961 Presidential inauguration) and when he moved to designing women’s wear, Newsweek dubbed him “the premier fashion designer of all America.” His designs were worn by Bianca Jagger, Liza Minnelli, Anjelica Huston, Lauren Bacall, Babe Paley and Elizabeth Taylor, setting a style that would be closely associated with the international jet set of the era.  Halston famously quipped, “You’re only as good as the people you dress.”

Despite his achievements, increasing drug use and failure to meet deadlines (he was reluctant to hire junior designers to design licensed products) eventually undermined his success. In October of 1984 he was fired from his own company and lost the right to design and sell clothes under his own name. In 1990, he died of lung cancer from complications of AIDS in San Francisco. According to Salon.com, Halston was “the first international fashion superstar—and possibly the best designer America has ever had.”