NEW YORK — Halston is about to get the Carrie Bradshaw touch.
This story first appeared in the January 14, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The fashion house has signed a deal with Sarah Jessica Parker under which she is expected to take an active design role, possibly even that of creative director, for Halston Heritage, the company’s just-launched secondary collection that features updated archival Halston pieces at contemporary price points.
The deal is said to also include an equity stake in Halston or some other executive role for the 44-year-old Parker, although that could not be confirmed at press time.
The company confirmed it has entered into a relationship with Parker, and said it will disclose more details at a later date.
Parker would be joining Halston at a time of change. The iconic brand became one of fashion’s hottest topics when Harvey Weinstein’s The Weinstein Co. and Hilco Consumer Capital LLC bought it from Neema Clothing Ltd. and its owner, James J. Ammeen, in 2007. However, the label has struggled to make a meaningful impact since its relaunch, and after two seasons under designer Marco Zanini and a few more with a design team, up-and-coming London designer Marios Schwab will unveil his first collection for the house next month. Parker is not expected to be involved with Schwab’s designer line.
While Weinstein is understood to no longer have an active role at the firm, tapping a name like Parker’s would be in line with his entertainment paradigm, where fashion and movies can go hand in hand. It is unclear how involved Weinstein, who reportedly is focusing on breathing life into his challenged movie company, is in Halston anymore.
One source close to the situation likened the deal between Parker and Halston to the one unveiled last week between Polaroid and Lady Gaga, who was named creative director for a special line of Polaroid Imaging products. Hilco Consumer Capital LLC, which owns a stake in Halston, also owns Polaroid in a joint venture with Gordon Brothers Brands LLC.
The move, which was first reported at eonline.com, could create some much-needed buzz for the house — which would benefit from the multimillion-dollar marketing machine due to be unleashed in advance of the “Sex and the City 2” movie in May — but just like the namesake founder himself, it could also come with a hefty dose of controversy. It would signal another instance of a fashion house choosing Hollywood appeal over proven design merit to grow its business, and underscores once more a fashion system where box-office popularity sometimes trumps actual sell-throughs.
It also might draw comparisons with Lindsay Lohan’s gig at Emanuel Ungaro, which tapped her last fall as an “artistic adviser” to designer Estrella Archs. But while Lohan and Archs’ first effort was widely ridiculed, the actress has outlasted the ceo who recruited her, Mounir Moufarrige, who since has exited the French fashion house. And there can be no denying that, good or bad, Lohan’s arrival has created more publicity around Ungaro than there’s been in years.
Parker joining Halston also would come at a time when many celebrity lines aren’t faring too well at retail. In the past year, Jennifer Lopez exited the apparel business in the U.S.; Paris Hilton’s short-lived apparel line came to an end, and Eve’s Fetish collection closed after several relaunch attempts. That said, there are still some bright spots, including Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s The Row and Elizabeth and James, Beyoncé’s Deréon, and Jay-Z’s Rocawear label, which rakes in $700 million at retail annually.
This also wouldn’t be the first time the effervescent and seemingly affable Parker, who sports a Halston Heritage look in the trailer and poster for “Sex and the City 2,” has taken a stab at apparel design. Like most of her acting peers, she may not have gone to fashion school, but in 2007 she created the Bitten line for mass retail chain Steve & Barry’s. Most pieces retailed for less than $19.98, but it remains unclear how successful her efforts were. Steve & Barry’s, which had several celebrity budget lines, filed for bankruptcy in 2008 and liquidated shortly after.
In May 2007, as she was about to launch Bitten, Parker discussed her fashion opportunities with WWD. “I’ve always loved beautiful clothes, but my background as a civilian informs the way I think,” she said. “I love the idea that fashion doesn’t have to be a luxury.” During that interview, she also noted she had been given a passel of design opportunities while appearing as TV’s most highly rated fashionista. “Honestly, I had been presented — for no right reason — all these design opportunities, because of [‘Sex and the City’],” she said as she signed bottles of her fragrance Lovely at a Minneapolis Macy’s store. “They were crazy ones that I absolutely had no business even pondering — particularly because so many of my friends who work in the fashion industry are still having financial difficulties. I just felt like, ‘Go to those people if you have that kind of money!’ I also didn’t want to do it just because there was a lot of money. I can’t sketch; I can’t drape. I didn’t want to do it for the wrong reasons.”
As her fictional “Sex and the City” character Carrie Bradshaw, Parker has donned virtually every major designer label, with stylist Patricia Field’s picks ranging from the fashion forward and influential to the utterly ridiculous. The HBO show and subsequent movie have turned Parker into something of a fashion icon.
Parker, meanwhile, has proven herself to be a powerhouse in the fragrance arena. She entered the fragrance business in 2005 with Coty Prestige and has released a handful of scents: 2005’s Lovely; 2007’s Covet; 2008’s trio of Lovely flankers — Endless, Twilight and Dawn — and a flanker for Covet called Covet Bloom.
Her latest fragrance, SJP NYC, bows next month at Macy’s and rolls out to wider distribution in May, intended to coincide with the release of “Sex and the City 2.”
Lovely, the first scent, was an immediate blockbuster — a September 2005 personal appearance at Manhattan’s Lord & Taylor garnered a reported $40,000 in sales in two hours — and also had staying power: In 2006, Lovely was the only celebrity scent to crack the NPD Group’s list of the top 25 women’s prestige fragrances, and was in more than 15,000 doors in 23 countries. It was said to have done $60 million at retail in its first year on counter.
According to NPD, Lovely still ranks in the top 50 women’s fragrances in the U.S., one of the few recent fragrance releases that remains on the market nearly five years after its initial release. Covet, originally intended to do $30 million at retail yearly, was said to be a much more modest seller, which bumped up when Covet Bloom was released. SJP NYC, based heavily on Parker’s “Sex and the City” moniker, is seen as the most commercial of her fragrances. Industry sources estimated it could do upward of $50 million at retail globally in its first year on counter.