Roy Halston, 1978.

Robert Rodriguez has quietly been at work as Halston’s new chief creative director for the past two months.

He succeeds Marie Mazelis, who exited the company just as quietly after a seven-year run. The announcement of a new creative head follows last year’s news of Halston finalizing a licensing deal with Groupe JS International to produce and distribute sportswear and dresses under the Halston label.

In a phone interview Monday, Rodriguez said he will continue to be based in Los Angeles, but will travel regularly to New York. In July, the designer closed his signature company, which he had started in 2003. That decision was made due to the climate of the fashion industry and the fact that he couldn’t afford to keep the company going financially.

His own label was acquired by the Jones Apparel Group in 2009. After his five-year contract with Jones ran its course, Rodriguez decided to leave and acquired his name back from Jones. Rodriguez later relaunched the company as R/R Studio exclusively with Barneys New York in 2016. Last summer he decided to pursue other ventures and this fit the bill. He said, “I really wanted to lead an iconic name and Halston is one of those.”

Thus far, most of his time at Halston has been spent focusing on re-branding with an in-house team. Rodriguez said of the company’s namesake Roy Halston Frowick, “He really has such a strong DNA and I really wanted to bring that back to what is current and what is now. If you look at his archives and what he has done in the past, there are so many references that are really current and relevant to today’s world. I want to continue that. For me, it’s reinterpreting his iconic signature into what women wear today. That is my goal.”

Through the years, Marco Zanini, Marios Schwab and Sarah Jessica Parker are among the creatives who have tried to reinvent the Halston label. As for whether Rodriguez is nervous, since others have tried and failed, he said, “I don’t really look at what’s been done, or who did what in the past. For me, it’s more about what can be done today and where can I take the look to the future and make it relevant in today’s world. I like to stay focused and current. What am I going to do to bring Halston into the 21st century and what would he have done, if he was still here.”

For starters, a sportswear collection will be launched since the focus previously has been on eveningwear and dresses. Next month, a select number of fall styles will be unveiled in Halston’s New York showroom, but Rodriguez said his launch is planned for pre-spring and spring 2021. The collection will be more elevated, and the price range will reflect that, due to better fabrics, silhouettes and embellishments. The label is predominantly produced in Asia. At this time, the collection “is definitely not contemporary. It’s probably going to go more into the bridge department,” the Havana-born-designer said.

After studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Rodriguez started his career at Christian Dior New York before moving on to Laundry by Shelli Segal, where he first worked with Andrea Scoli, who is now Halston’s president.

With eight divisions, Groupe JS International has an assortment of distribution channels and brands, including Theia, Amur, Flor et.al, and JS Collections.

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