London Goes In Search of Halston
There was a conspicuous lack of anyone who could pass for that mythical beast, the Halstonette, in the noticeably young audience for the first U.K. screening of Ultrasuede: In Seach of Halston on Monday night at the Electric Cinema on Portobello Road. Andrea Dellal had fond memories of escorting the legendary designer round Rio, but surely she was a mere child at the time. Co-host of the evening Nicky Haslam also had some personal—though not particularly favorable—memories to share. But Halston’s best buddy Bianca Jagger was out of town—dommage!—and Liza Minnelli, André Leon Talley, and Pat Cleveland, all of whom lend major heft to the film, were hardly likely to cross the pond for such an intimate event.
So it was down to director Whitney Sudler-Smith to ruminate on Halston’s significance, which was perfectly appropriate because Ultrasuede is from the documentary school of Roger and Me, where the filmmaker’s search for his subject turns him into the main character. Like a perverse imp on the director’s shoulder, Nellee Hooper was insisting his friend made the film to meet girls, but Sudler-Smith brushed off the suggestion. He said fashion interested him as a fascinating subject that he knew little about and Halston seemed like a good way to educate himself. He certainly casts himself as a good listener as his pundits weigh in on disco, decadence, and the unholy excesses that eventually upended Halston’s career. If Ultrasuede doesn’t exactly throw new light on the decline and fall, it had more than enough “previously unseen footage” to entertain an audience that included Sara Parker Bowles, Dan Macmillan, Sophia Hesketh, Stephen Jones, and Amanda Sheppard, also co-hosting. “It’s new Halston,” said Kinvara Balfour (pictured, with Sudder-Smith), another of the evening’s hosts, of her drapey gold jumpsuit. “I tried on a vintage piece and it just didn’t feel as good.” Such heresy would be music to the ears of new Halston designer Marios Schwab, who was part of a design contingent in attendance, along with Matthew Williamson and Issa’s Daniella Issa Helayel. She’s spent the last week fending off questions about Kate Middleton’s wedding dress (not to mention seeing knockoffs of the one she wore to announce her engagement sell for as little as £16 at her local Tesco). “Tonight, I just want to speak about me, myself, and I,” she said with a laugh, though the very notion of a Brazilian designer making the wedding dress of the future Queen of England is radical enough to merit the fuss.
Another radical sight—Giovanna Battaglia in Uggs. She’s broken two toes and is off heels for the foreseeable future. Gio in Uggs? What’s next? Anna Dello Russo in chinos?
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