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Halston in New York City, 1979. Image from Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston, distributed by Tribeca Film.
Halston with Joe Eula and muse Elsa Peretti in 1974.
Roy Halston--arguably the biggest name in American fashion--defined the 1970s with his sleek-by-day, slinky-by-night look, but no filmmaker has ever explored the legendary designer's life and times.
Now a new documentary, Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston, is shedding light on the elusive, excessive man behind the visionary label.
Director Whitney Sudler-Smith tells a riveting story with archival footage from the famous Lipscomb University collection, interviews with big fashion names like Diane von Furstenberg and André Leon Talley and inside access to Halston's meticulously preserved Upper East Side townhouse.
The film chronicles Halston's rise and catastrophic fall, from career-defining creations like Jackie O.'s pillbox hat and the ultrasuede shirtdress to the ill-received J.C. Penney diffusion line that ultimately cost him his company in 1983. (The brand hasn't had a permanent head designer since, giving rise to the infamous Halston Curse.)
Most compelling are Sudler-Smith's humanizing conversations with Halston's cohorts: his best friend, Liza Minnelli; his leading model, Anjelica Huston; and Interview Magazine's Glenn O'Brien. Their glittering anecdotes make us feel like we're basking in the glow of Studio 54.
"Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston," now playing at IFC Center, 323 Sixth Ave. (at W. Third St.); 212-924-7771 or ifccenter.com
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