OBSESSED WITH HALSTON

Byline: Peter Braunstein

NEW YORK — During his heyday, epochal designer Halston lamented the fact that the fashion industry was always eclipsed by Hollywood in terms of cultural importance.
Since his death in 1990, nothing much has changed — the fashion press still swoons every time some C-list actress shows up at an after-party — but Halston would have found it ironically gratifying to know that he has become, posthumously, perhaps the most Hollywood-worthy of fashion designers. But before the much-anticipated movie about the designer hits theaters, Halston-lovers can partake of “Halston,” the definitive picture-book, which publisher Phaidon is releasing this month. As opposed to previous, halting attempts to capture Halston’s lavish world, editor Steven Bluttal’s book is a connoisseur’s pictorial bible, geared to those who interpret “Halston, Gucci, Fiorucci” as not just a disco lyric but a hierarchy of value.
Bluttal embarked on the Halston project three years ago, after finding the literary and photographic record of the designer’s life and times to be decidedly below par.
“I was always marginally obsessed with Halston,” Bluttal explained, “and when Steven Gaines’s “Simply Halston” came out [in 1991], I thought, ‘This is terrible; Halston is getting such short shrift.”‘
Before undertaking the project, Bluttal met Halston’s brother on the West Coast in search of approval — or at the very least, non-disapproval. “For some reason, I felt I needed his support, and I got the handshake,” said Bluttal.
The final product is a pseudo-coffee table book: It’s crammed with 200 dazzling color and 300 black-and-white photos, but at 8 by 5 1/2 inches, it’s the same size as a Mario Puzo novel.
” I wanted the book to feel intimidating,” said Bluttal, expaining the design and choice of images. “I mean, the Seventies were all about surface. Everything is so much more touchy feely now.”
The book spans Halston’s career, from milliner to megalomaniac, and includes sundry shots of Halston models and muses like Anjelica Huston, Berry Berenson, Jerry Hall, Lauren Hutton, Bianca Jagger, Liza Minnelli and Jackie O.