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roxanne lowit

The legacy of Halston

There is something so alluring about the 1970s — the music, the unabashed hedonism, the rise of the “beautiful people” and, above all, the fashion. Evolving from the man who made Jackie Kennedy’s hats to the inventor of the minimal American sportswear look, no one is more associated with this era than the famous designer Halston. Constantly traveling with a posse of models — the self-described Halstonettes — he was one of the first designers to elevate these young women to supermodel status. In Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston, documentarian Whitney Sudler-Smith shows these models, including Anjelica Huston, Pat Cleveland, Alva Chinn, Karen Bjornson, Marina Schiano and others, on catwalks, traveling together to places like Mexico and China, and even partying at New York's iconic Studio 54. “He created this tribe of people,” Cleveland says. “He allowed us to be fabulous [on the catwalk] … He didn’t want us to blend in like robots. We lived the life and did what we knew.” Breaking the mold, Cleveland’s signature move was twirling on the runway — and Huston’s arm movement was so unorthodox at the time that Mother Jones published a commentary about it. Cleveland adds, “He told us to be your own person.” Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston is available this month On Demand and in select theaters.