NEW YORK — It looks like the designer door has swung again at Halston.
Just one year after being hired by Harvey Weinstein and Tamara Mellon to resurrect the iconic fashion house, creative director Marco Zanini is said to be out.
The Italian-born designer no longer works at the company’s Spring Street headquarters in lower Manhattan, according to sources familiar with the situation. Zanini is said to have designed the spring collection, which will be unveiled during New York Fashion Week in September. The company may already be considering potential successors, and an announcement could come before fashion week, the sources said.
Halston executives were unavailable for comment. Zanini could not be reached.
Zanini’s departure appears to mark another chapter in the checkered history of Halston, which had its heyday in the late Seventies when its charismatic namesake designer was a glamorous fixture at Studio 54 and dressed the global celebrity and jet set. Since his death in 1990, there have been numerous attempts to revive the label, with designers Randolph Duke, Kevan Hall, Craig Natiello, Piyawat Pattanapuckdee and Bradley Bayou passing through the company’s doors.
Zanini arrived at Halston during a period of renewed promise for the label, where all the right ingredients were aligned: a charismatic movie mogul in Weinstein, a bona fide business executive in Jimmy Choo founder Mellon, a press-loving celebrity stylist in Rachel Zoe and a designer with an impressive résumé.
Last year, the Weinstein Co. and Hilco Consumer Capital LLC bought Halston from Neema Clothing Ltd. and its owner, James J. Ammeen. Sources speculated the sale price was between $22 million and $27 million. The buzz surrounding Weinstein’s involvement in the deal, with Mellon on its board and creative advisory team, instantly made the Halston moniker one of the hottest commodities in American fashion. Many believed with the new ownership, Halston could herald fresh synergy between Hollywood and fashion.
“Our model was Arnon Milchan and what he had done with Puma,” Weinstein said at the WWD/DNR CEO Summit in October. “So when Tamara Mellon brought us the idea of acquiring Halston, I immediately knew it was a perfect fit. She showed me a book of a thousand designs that Halston had done. To be honest, I didn’t even know that much about Halston. I’d kind of heard about Halston, and Tamara did the education and so she deserves the credit.”
At the time, Weinstein added that Halston could become “a great American luxury brand, something that evokes glamour, elegance, sophistication and is effortlessly timeless.”
The plan was to bring this brand to life with respect to the original namesake designer and his Seventies heyday, not what followed. The launch collection for fall came complete with full ready-to-wear, footwear and handbag collections produced in-house, and an unprecedented marketing initiative with Net-a-porter.com that allowed shoppers to get their hands on two looks from Zanini’s first runway show within 24 hours of the presentation. There also has been buzz involving a documentary about the company’s namesake that would be produced by the Weinstein Co.
“I want to introduce Halston’s life to a world of playwrights and authors, actors and filmmakers,” Weinstein said at the CEO summit. “I want them to be inspired. Maybe somebody will make a movie about that time period. I see Halston filled with limitless opportunities and I’m thrilled to be associated with this amazing group of people.”
Much hope was pinned on Zanini, who joined the brand from Versace, where he had worked closely with Donatella Versace on the women’s and men’s collections since 1999. Before that, the 36-year-old designer worked for Dolce & Gabbana and Lawrence Steele.
Mellon was said to have brought Zanini to Weinstein’s attention. At the time of the hire last July, the designer said he had admired Halston since childhood.
“Halston, for me and for so many people in fashion, has always been a reference,” Zanini told WWD at the time. His background — and Weinstein’s Hollywood muscle — prompted many to expect va-va-voom gowns that would immediately establish Halston on the red-carpet circuit, not unlike Marchesa, which is designed by Weinstein’s wife, Georgina Chapman.
Zanini’s first collection for fall didn’t deliver on that front. Weinstein arrived at the show on the arm of Liza Minnelli, the quintessential Halstonette, which many took as an ominous sign.
The collection that followed was referential to the original designer’s archive without enough freshness to make a real impact on fashion, and it largely received a mixed reaction. WWD said in its review, “It’s clear that Zanini has a long way to go before he can assume the mantle of one of America’s greatest talents and make it his own,” calling the clothes “lost in a limbo between historical reverence and the yen to update.”
The International Herald Tribune described Zanini’s first outing as “a polite homage to the Halston heritage without much fire,” lacking the “sexual charge” so inherent to the label’s DNA and the original designer’s own lifestyle. Sources at the time said Zanini was devastated by the reviews.
Other signs of friction surfaced during the New York shows. Zoe, who was also serving on Halston’s creative advisory board, was notably absent from Zanini’s first runway effort, even though she managed to be a front-row regular at other shows that week. It led to speculation that the Hollywood stylist and the designer had fallen out over the creative direction in which the new Halston was heading.
The fall collection was said to have received underwhelming interest from American retailers.
That said, European and Asian stores were apparently more impressed with Zanini’s efforts. In June, Selfridges opened an 800-square-foot Halston in-store boutique on its second floor, decorated with dove gray carpets, slate-colored sofas and mirrored gray screens. A company spokesman said the collection had a 52 percent sell-through for its rtw in the first 10 days of business. At the opening party, Bonnie Takhar, president and chief executive officer of Halston, told WWD there were plans to extend the brand into other categories, including sunglasses, swimwear, jeans and candles.
@pantone announced their Color of the Year 2018: Ultra Violet. Nearly 20 months after the musician Prince’s death, fashion is having a purple moment. Varying shades of purple appeared on spring or fall runways, from @christopherkane to @calvinklein. @gucci’s Alessandro Michele bathed his fall runway in ultra violet-colored light at one point. Pantone 18-3838 is meant to “push the boundaries of what inspires us to look upward and outward to the future.” #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@badgalriri’s @fentybeauty launch in September was a massive success on social media, powering $72.9 million of earned media value, according to Tribe Dynamics. The brand’s foundation offering sparked conversations about diversity in beauty, launching the growth of emerging influencers and propelling the brand’s support on social media. Today, #fentybeauty won Launch of the Year at the WWD #BeautyIncAwards. (📷: Chema Moya/EPE-EFE)
@marianna_hewitt has become one of the most influential content creators in the beauty space, with almost 800,000 Instagram followers and a newly launched skin care line called @SummerFridays. Today, she was awarded Influencer of the Year at the WWD #BeautyIncAwards. (📸: @sophiachabbott )
As shopping behaviors evolve, the retail experience must follow. Head over to retail experts @colliersinternational’s Knowledge Leader series to read more about the shift in our shopping era. #colliersretail #lovecolliers
@prada opened a pop-up club, called Prada Double Club, in collaboration with German artist Cartsen Höller at @artbasel Miami. Last night, guests – including @youngparis, @ritaora and even Miuccia Prada herself – gathered in a former ice factory where the pop-up is housed for a performance from @wyclefjean. Go to WWD.com for full coverage on all the exhibits, parties and more at #ArtBaselMiami. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
@louboutinworld and @disney are making magic once again, creating a set of shoe designs for the release of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” Louboutin designed a pair of shoes for each of the film’s four female leads: Rey (@daisyridrey), Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo (@lauradern), Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) and Rose Tico (@kellymarietran). The shoes will debut on Saturday at the L.A. premiere of the latest episode. #wwdfashion
Today at the #BeautyIncAwards 2017, WWD will be joined by beauty leaders from around the world as we honor this year's most innovative people, products, brands and places. Follow along here and on Twitter for live coverage from the exclusive event. #wwdsummits (📷: @elizaflorendo)
Exclusive: Beauty superinfluencer @marianna_hewitt is launching her first-ever skin care brand with her business partner @laurengores. Their new line Summer Fridays, which will be sold exclusively at summerfridays.com starting in January, is launching with just one product – a hydrating cream Jet Lag Mask. “We wanted to focus on one product that was amazing,” said Hewitt. Read the full interview on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews
Michelin star-rated chef PJ Calapa marks his first solo endeavor with today’s opening of @scampinyc –– the new Southern Italian restaurant located in Manhattans’ Flatiron District. The upscale yet welcoming environment matches the menu, which includes two types of scampi: traditional Italian langoustines in butter and the Americanized version with shrimp over pasta 🍤 - pictured here. #wwdeye (📷: George Chinsee)