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Halston: Rebuilding an Empire

NEW YORK — With a new creative director at the helm of its designer collection and his first Oscar-night dress lined up, Halston LLC is embarking on a renewed multitiered product development strategy that could put the Halston brand back on a...

NEW YORK — With a new creative director at the helm of its designer collection and his first Oscar-night dress lined up, Halston LLC is embarking on a renewed multitiered product development strategy that could put the Halston brand back on a ream of licensed goods — from inexpensive accessories to bridge sportswear.

To further that goal, the company named Kathy Landau, a brand development specialist, as vice president on Tuesday in a newly created position to manage Halston’s day-to-day operations, as well as its development of licensing and merchandising programs under a centralized organization called the Halston Design Group. Landau, who reports to James J. Ammeen, chief executive officer of Halston, most recently headed her own consulting firm, KL Concepts, and previously worked for Diane Von Furstenberg for 10 years, managing the relaunch of DVF’s dress line at Saks Fifth Avenue and the launch of Silk Assets by Diane Von Furstenberg on QVC, ultimately becoming president of the company’s private label division.

Halston is closely examining the positioning of the brand in all categories as it approaches the introduction of a new look for its designer collection, since Bradley Bayou was named its creative director in December. Queen Latifah, the actress who is nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in “Chicago,” was quoted on “Entertainment Tonight” this week saying she would wear a Bradley Bayou for Halston gown to the event. Since its initial relaunch in 1997 under the design direction of Randolph Duke, when the Halston name was licensed in the better and moderate sportswear categories, more than 10 of those deals have been eliminated.

“Everything is up for consideration now in terms of making sure we have the correct positioning, with the right products in the right venues,” Landau said. “We are going to make a huge push on licensing and merchandising, but making sure that all the products resonate with the true brand values that will originate at the top tier.”

As reported, the Bradley Bayou for Halston collection will be created at the designer’s former signature operations in Los Angeles, where he has retained the services of the former pattern makers and sewers of James Galanos’ custom design studio. In New York, Halston is establishing a Halston Design Group with a team of designers — in-house and through licensees — who will contribute to other classifications of products, with an emphasis on home, bridge sportswear and accessories. It’s part of an effort to create a new concept of creative collaboration, Landau said. For instance, the home collection will include joint designs with visiting sculptors or a theatrical set designer.

“Bradley really represents the fusion of those different arenas,” she said. “He is a fine artist by training, but has also worked in entertainment and in fashion. He’s the centerpiece of that concept, which is a more integrated approach to design and merchandising that will also be applied to everything from branding to licensing to point of purchase.”

Halston plans to target the designer as well as the lower tiers of fashion to promote accessible products for all customers. That will include accessories, furs, leather outerwear and fine jewelry for the designer customer and fake furs, casual sportswear, footwear, accessories, handbags, intimate apparel and foundations in lower tiers, “all going back to Bradley’s belief that all women can be beautiful,” Landau said.

“It’s much more about a world of Halston than Halston as a fashion design company,” she said.

Halston has five remaining licenses from the initial relaunch, including eyewear, a limited home collection, intimates, dresses and an international business in Mexico, which will remain a priority.