Halston is having a bit of a moment in the fashion exhibition world. I wrote earlier about Yves Saint Laurent + Halston: Fashioning the ’70 at the Museum at FIT, and I’ve been looking forward to this show ever since seeing it. The exhibition was organized by the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh where it was first shown, and over the past year it has traveled to several other cities. It is currently in Charlotte, NC, at the Mint Uptown, where you can see it until June 14.
The exhibition came about due to the efforts of Halston’s niece, Lesley Frowick. She approached the Andy Warhol Museum with her idea, and they enthusiastically agreed to co-curate the exhibition with her. Halston had left much of his archive to Leslie in case she ever wanted to write a book about him, a task she has accomplished. They were able to pull from her material and that of the museum to find objects to illustrate the relationship the two men shared, and how one’s art influenced that of the other.
I’ve been to the Mint numerous times, but simply put, this is the best exhibition I’ve ever seen there. The variety of artifacts and the way it was all arranged led to a great learning experience.
The exhibition started with accessories, and how Warhol got his start illustrating shoes and Halston got his making hats. Interspersed with the drawings, hats, and archival material were Warhol films and Halston fashion show videos.
Probably the one object that best shows the mutual influence is this silk jersey Halston dress. The print was based on a series of flowers that Warhol had been silk-screening. The exhibition had not only the dress, which belongs to the Warhol Museum, but also an assortment of the paintings which were hung nearby.
The Halston clothing came from several sources. Some of it came from Lesley Frowick’s collection, and those of other family members. Much of it came from Halston Heritage, the company that owns the Halston label, and which has an archive of Halston clothing. The evening set above was created in 1983.
In many cases the original Halston sketch, drawn on lined notebook paper would be hung near the actual garment. Some of the garments were shown with publicity sketches drawn by artist Stephen Sprouse. And all through the exhibition snippets from Warhol’s famous diary gave meaning to the art and added perspective to the clothing.
I really appreciated the fact that the clothes were accessorized in the most proper way, with Elsa Peretti for Tiffany jewelry. The blue cashmere pants, sweater, and cape have just the silver and leather Peretti belt to set off the outfit.
Much has been made of how the Halston deal with JC Penney’s caused his downfall. It’s such a shame really. Some of the JC Penney clothes were on display, and I was surprised at how good they really were.
There were a few Warhol paintings of the mutual friends of the two men. There was Liza Minnelli, of course, but also Martha Graham.
To kick off the exhibition, Lesley Frowick was in Charlotte to gave a talk and show slides of Halston as a child. I was lucky enough to attend, as listening to Halston’s niece really put a human face on the designer. He was not just the famous Halston, he was Uncle Halston, and according to Leslie, he was a really good uncle to have.
As a young woman Leslie moved to New York and her uncle gave her a job and a place to live. When she had a trip to Paris planned and did not know what to wear, Halston told her to simply send over her luggage and he would handle the rest. He filled five suitcases with clothes for her, along with sketches showing what to wear with what.
For the talk, Lesley was wearing pieces of her vintage Halston collection, and she looked terrific.
I’ve not been able to find out if this exhibition will continue to travel, so if you are anywhere near Charlotte in the next three months, I strongly recommend this show. Photos were not permitted due to ownership rights, but the Mint does allow use of photos from their website.