Some of the clothes that stepped quietly, elegantly into Halston’s heavily curtained showroom yesterday are the kind you don’t see around much anymore. They look sculpted rather than pasted together, and they were the work of Charles James, erstwhile couturier and now “fashion consultant-engineer” to Halston Frowick.”He helped shape the collection, like Balenciaga helped Givenchy,” Halston explained.
The shebang was done in a white studio on the top floor of the building at 33 East 68th Street where Halston greets such clients as Mrs. William S. Paley, wife of Columbia broadcasting system chairman, Mrs. Patricia Lawford Kennedy and Mrs. Clinton Murchison of oil and cattle fame. The studio looks like a cross between a doctor’s office and an artist’s workroom with anatomical drawings on the walls, some headless forms of human body and surgical white décor.
Mr. James, who Halston likens to Leonardo da Vinci, has only turned out a few styles, but then he’s only been ensconced there a few weeks. He’s working on basic shapes upon which endless variations can be played. “Once you get the structure right, the things can be reproduced quickly,” he said. “I believe in mass production.”
So far, the designer who played haute couturier to women of fashion from the 1930’s to the 1950’s (Halston produced a retrospective showing of the design’s last December) has only turned out a few things. There’s a beige jacket suede jacket shaped with a little shirring at the waist in back and one button low on the waist in front, that Halston envisions as inspiring a whole wardrobe. “We’ll do it as a suit, as a coat, in many different fabrics,” he said.
There were some blouses also in suede, with undulating necklines that Halston describes as “pretty sculpture for a lady to wear to dinner.”The decked-out gypsy thing, Halston said, was beginning to seem too much. The mannequins seemed to get the message. Instead of swinging down the room, they moved languorously, with style. Is fashion entering a new phase?
BERNADINE MORRIS in AT HALSTON, A NEW FASHION TEAM for the NYT, June 16,, 1970