From Studio 54 to JC Penny’s—The Next Chapter in the Halston Saga
It was a boon for L.A. fashion when CEO Ben Malka moved Halston headquarters here last year. Now he’s launching the next phase of his brand revival with a West Coast store at the Beverly Center
You know you’re part of the disco generation if the name Roy Halston conjures images of halter jumpsuits and Ultrasuede shirtdresses. The designer—who boogied at Studio 54 flanked by the likes of Bianca Jagger, Liza Minnelli, and Andy Warhol—was America’s first fashion superstar.
But the company’s fortunes had already started slipping by 1973, when its new corporate owner slapped the Halston name on everything from bedsheets to pantyhose. The final blow was a partnership with the down-market JC Penney. Over the years leadership changed eight times, and a number of big names (Sarah Jessica Parker, Rachel Zoe) tried, and failed, to recharge the brand.
In swooped CEO and would-be savior Ben Malka last year. He immediately moved the company’s headquarters to Los Angeles and began updating the collections, which had borrowed heavily from the past. Malka also worried that brand impact was being diluted as products were sold piecemeal in different sections of department stores. So he launched the first Halston Heritage shops, with one of three U.S. retail outlets opening in March at the Beverly Center.
You’ll find subtle nods to the late designer inside the boutique. Dramatic window displays and theatrical mannequins pay homage to Halston’s pioneering use of both. Barre racks are a reference to his love of ballet and longtime friend Martha Graham. Spiraling shelves mimic the floating staircase in his New York apartment. “He’s everywhere in the details,” Malka says. “He’s still quoted every day in the fashion world, museums hold retrospectives of his work, and countless designers claim him as an influence. How could you not respect what Halston built?”
Pictured: Boatneck gown, $645; long-sleeved maxi dress, $495; V-neck jumpsuit, $525; at Halston Heritage, Beverly Center, L.A.