The fashion world has set its sights on Southern California. A laundry list of designers have cited California as their inspiration for next spring and decidedly East Coast labels — ahem, the Row — are popping up on the Left Coast in the coming months or, in the case of luxe label Bottega Veneta, opening up special shops with new concepts. Halston, a brand that epitomizes New York style via the heyday of the disco era, has opened up two shops here in Southern California, sealing the deal and making L.A. the place to be for the fashion set.
Halston Heritage, the label that re-imagines classic Halston pieces for the contemporary market, has been on an upward trajectory for the past few seasons now. Gone are they days where the brand teetered on uncertainty with names such as Harvey Weinsten, Tamara Mellon, Rachel Zoe and Marios Schwab at the helm. Now, there’s Ben Malka, formerly of BCBG, at the helm of a company that’s definitely on the rise. With two shops in New York, one on Madison Avenue and a second recently opening in SoHo, Malka decided that SoCal would be the place to go for the brand’s expansion. Beverly Center opened a few months ago and just last weekend, Orange County’s Fashion Island debuted a Halston Heritage location. Like the brand’s Los Angeles and New York Stores, the Fashion Island location is sleek and simple, with clothing and shoes displayed on clean camel ultrasuede. The store’s collection focuses on separates and cocktail, though a few longer and more formal offerings are available.
The heyday of Halston was in the ’70s, when he dressed Studio 54 regulars such as Diane von Furstenberg, Jaclyn Smith, Elizabeth Taylor, Liza Minelli and Bianca Jagger. In the late 1990, after Halston himself (née Roy Halston Frowick) passed from AIDS, the brand languished and a revolving door of designers tried to breathe new life into the line, including Kevan Hall, Randolph Duke, Piyawat Pattanapuckdee of Anne Klein and Bradley Bayou. The brand was thrust back into the spotlight when Harvey Weinsten tried to resuscitate the label with Rachel Zoe , Tamara Mellon, Marco Zannini and Marios Schwab as well as appointing Sarah Jessica Parker as the creative force behind Halston Heritage — all in just a few seasons. Today, Ben Malka and a team plucked from BCBG have brought the Heritage label back to life, dropping the pomp and circumstance of the mainline Halston brand (for now) and concentrating on expansion and building a new brand identity for a storied label.
Halston Heritage, firmly planted in the contemporary clothing category, focuses on wear-to-work separates as well as more showy party-appropriate dresses draped in the style of the label’s namesake. While there’s little to no ultrasuede — Halston’s fabric of choice — in the collection these days (jersey is more prominent), there’s still a sense of Saturday Night Fever that keeps the brand from losing its identity. Malka, who has been quoted as saying that he wanted to keep the brand about the clothes, not celebrity (which might explain why there’s no superstar designer spearheading the brand), is happy with the way the brand is growing. Once only available in department stores, Halston Heritage is growing its list of standalone locations as well as adding more categories to its lineup. Bags and shoes are already on offer (and beautifully displayed at the brand’s stores) and more accessories lines are in the works. As for the higher-end luxury line? Malka hasn’t forgotten about it — he’s just concentrating on bringing Halston Heritage into the minds of shoppers all over the world. Unlike his predecessors, he’s taking it slow.
Halston Heritage is now open at Beverly Center and Fashion Island.
Images courtesy Halston Heritage