By  on February 11, 2009

NEW YORK — Video already killed the radio star. Now, it will also replace the traditional runway show at Halston, at least for the fall season.

This fashion week, Halston is going digital with a music video concept that capitalizes on the viral marketing opportunities many in the fashion world are still catching up on. The video, featuring Dree Hemingway as a modern-day Halstonette, showcases a cool, urban woman as she glides from uptown to downtown, experiencing all walks of New York City life, with different vignettes outfitted in Halston’s fall collection.

Today, a selected list of editors, retailers and others who would normally attend the show will receive an e-mailed teaser, and on Feb. 13, Halston will e-mail the video in its entirety.

“Retailers and press are looking for more flexibility when they go and look at a collection,” Bonnie Takhar, Halston’s president and chief executive officer, said. “I think the show is a very important format. The presentation allows people to come in with a broader window to view the collection. When you look at everything that is going on in the world today, you want to make people much more engaged in terms of the brand and feel of it, and give them a real 360-degree view of the message.”

Last year, Halston also took an innovative step when it offered two runway looks for sale on the day of the show through

Halston board member Tamara Mellon added, “Everything is so fast now, and everyone sees the shows on By the time it’s in stores, they have seen the next season. We thought this is another way forward. Particularly now, with the economic climate, a lot of people’s budgets will be cut and many won’t be traveling to see the shows, and this is a way to be inclusive.”

That said, Takhar stressed the decision was not made out of economic need. “It was something we were planning since September, before the world fell apart,” she said. “Obviously, people are looking at creative ways in this market and it is prudent to do so, but it was something we were working on before.”

The video was produced by London-based creative agencies Blink Productions and Colonel Blimp, which has produced videos for the likes of Jarvis Cocker and Lily Allen. Nez Khammel, who worked with Kano and M.I.A. in the past, directed the clip, which was filmed last month at Pinewood Studios near London, where Gotham streets were recreated for the occasion.

“It’s pushing [Halston] to another demographic, between 25 and 45 years old…our previous collections were focused from 30 to 50,” Takhar said.

Halston will support the video with a viral marketing campaign, and the firm is working with 250 Web sites worldwide.

Takhar said that even without a viral marketing campaign, the company has had significant coverage on blogs and online. “Now we are strategically incorporating and inviting various bloggers and blog sites. They have to be a part of every company’s marketing strategy today,” she said.

A day after the video goes out, Halston will send books with illustrations of each look, and an invitation to see the entire collection at the company’s SoHo showroom — no appointment necessary.

This will mark Halston’s third season under the new ownership of the Weinstein Co. and Hilco Consumer Capital, and while there has been some turbulence — creative director Marco Zanini was out after just one season — the new owners say they are pleased with the progress. For spring, the collection is distributed to 80 accounts in 20 countries.

“We launched our business in a very challenging year, which I think has worked in our favor,” Takhar said. “If we had launched a couple of years earlier, we would have been further down the development cycle, and therefore more exposed. Our business, geographically, is diversified, and I think this has also been a huge plus. Obviously, we progress cautiously, looking at the economic indicators in each geographic location. There are still growth markets out there, especially for a new brand.”

Recent rumors that high-profile investor Harvey Weinstein was looking to sell his stake in Halston aren’t true, according to Takhar. “Harvey remains on our board and remains an investor,” she said.

A design search is also said to be on in Europe for a senior role at Halston. “We are constantly looking to build the design team in different areas,” Takhar said, addressing the rumors. “We have been out in the marketplace looking for designers to be a part of the design team.

“What is really important, especially in this market, is to find someone who understands the brand and can deliver the product,” Takhar added. “It could be somebody of that [creative director] caliber. We are looking at two different avenues, depending on who the talent is.”

Takhar declined to disclose volume information for the brand, or the cost of the video.

Mellon said it’s about time to maximize the potential of the Internet. “It’s such a source of information and we need to bring the way of showing fashion into the modern day,” she said. “Halston was so pioneering in his time, and it’s what he would be doing now.”

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